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Weekly Australian Cattle Summary

28 November 2008
Meat & Livestock Australia

AUSTRALIA - This report is a collection of weekly cattle price summaries from each Australian state by the Meat & Livestock Australia.

South Australia

Increased Numbers

Mt. Gambier kick started the week after splitting their sales, with around 1,700 grown steers and cows being offered in a good quality yarding that generally sold to a weaker trend despite the usual buyers operating. Most heavy grown steers attracted rates below 165¢, with medium weights up to 170¢/kg. Cow prices were generally below 144¢, with better quality selling between 136¢ and 142¢/kg.

Naracoorte’s mainly mixed quality young cattle from a wide range of areas also tended to attract a weaker trend of anywhere between 5¢ and 13¢, with only grown steers in good quality runs selling 4¢ to 5¢/kg cheaper. It was also interesting to witness a number of Victorian and an SA processor also providing the usual restocker and feeder orders solid inquiry, as they sourced large numbers of steers and heifers to feed on, for use probably in the first month or so of 2009.

The SA LE had a similar sized yarding that also featured mixed quality runs consisting mainly of yearlings and cows that sold to stronger competition from the usual buyers at generally dearer levels. Feeder orders were active sourcing mainly lightweight C2 yearling steers and heifers at firm rates.

Mt. Gambier’s mixed quality young cattle sale featured 1,562 head that sold to a fluctuating trend, with some early sales dearer before retreating to the previous week’s lower rates. Millicent agents put together a smaller yarding which included some of that regions very good quality vealers and yearlings.

Most categories retreat

The large numbers available generally allowed buyers to lower their rates on most categories, with only some sales dearer due to the strong competition at the SA LE. Vealer steers to the trade were mainly 5¢ to 9¢ cheaper with B muscled sales mainly from 175¢ to 192¢, and the C muscled between 154¢ and 180¢/kg. Feeder and restocker purchases were mostly between 155¢ and 179¢/kg. Vealer heifers sold at rates unchanged to 9¢ cheaper even though isolated 2 score sales were dearer. This left the majority selling between 145¢ and 178¢, with B muscled sales to 186c/kg. Yearling steers to a myriad of orders over a wide range of quality witnessed sales varying from 1¢ to 8¢ dearer and unchanged to 5¢/kg cheaper. This trend left a wide spread of prices between 136¢ and 179¢/kg. Yearling heifers followed a similar pattern with some up to 9¢ dearer, and most others 1¢ to 9¢/kg cheaper as most C3 sales ranged between 138¢ and 174¢/kg.

Grown steer prices eased 2¢ to 6¢ on good quality runs that sold at around a 290¢/kg cwt average. Cows attracted a mainly dearer trend, as carcase weight prices ranged generally between 270¢ and 300¢/kg.

Queensland

Season improves

With the approaching end of year shutdown numbers in the south of the state experienced a large lift, even though there were some good falls of rain across the supply areas. The Longreach selling centre has ceased operations for the year and this was reflected in a 22% drop in the overall supply at physical markets covered by MLA’s NLRS.

The seasonal conditions across a fair percentage of the state have improved in recent weeks, as useful falls of storm rain is occurring virtually on a weekly basis. This has had a large impact on the wheat and barley harvest and has brought harvesting operations to complete stop in some districts. However the rain has been very beneficial to forage and grain sorghum crops plus boosting pasture and grass growth in the cattle production areas.

The overall quality of stock being presented at physical markets was fair to good and at Dalby the yarding included large samples of grown steers bullocks and cows. A larger than normal panel of processors were present at some centres, plus increased numbers of restockers who were keen to purchase stock. Values generally improved across all categories with lightweight restocker or backgrounder classes improving close to 20¢/kg. This trend also flowed onto the feeder yearling steers with improvements of 3¢ to 6¢/kg. Local trade descriptions also gained ground by 3¢ to 5¢ and up to 13¢/kg on lightweight classes.

Heavy steers and bullocks across all markets improved 6¢ to 7¢ and the certified grainfed portion gained 1¢ to 5¢/kg. Cows also enjoyed a lift in price with good heavy cows 2¢/kg dearer.

Restocker lines 20¢ dearer

Calves to the trade averaged close to 199¢, and restocker classes mostly sold around 200¢ with sales to 219.2¢/kg. Vealer steers to backgrounders averaged close to 20¢ dearer at 203¢, while restocker classes made to a top of 222.2¢ to averaged 209¢/kg. Vealer heifers mostly sold in the mid 180¢/kg range with butchers pushing the occasional well presented grade to 218.2¢/kg. Lightweight yearling steers to restockers and feed sold around 195¢ with some to 207.2¢/kg. Medium and heavyweights to feed averaged 179¢ and 182¢/kg respectively. Heavy local trade descriptions averaged 5¢ dearer at 181¢ the occasional sale to 200¢/kg. Lightweight yearling heifers also to the trade improved 13¢ to averaged just under 180¢ while medium weight lines sold around 173¢/kg.

Grown steers to feed sold to 187.2¢ to average 4¢ dearer at 182¢/kg. Heavy steers to export slaughter mostly sold around 178¢ with sales to 190¢, and the certified grainfed portion made to 192.2¢ to average 189¢/kg. Bullocks averaged 175¢ with sales to 185.2¢ and certified grainfeds 192.2¢/kg. Medium weight 2 score cows improved 3¢ to average close to 126¢ and 3 scores 1¢ better at 136¢/kg. Good heavy cows made to 158.2¢ with most sales 2¢ dearer at 150¢/kg.

West Australia

Late rainfall impacts grain prices

Activity in the north of the State has now become very minimal with the season having now finished. Conditions in the far north have remained reasonably mild for this time of year and many still await the beginning of “the wet”. Live export activity has now moved further south with boats being loaded out of both Fremantle and Geraldton with these two ports now being the focus for the next several months. Further south in the Ag districts more rainfall and thunderstorm activity has been recorded once again. Falls varied greatly with the largest being recorded on the couth coast in and around Albany with the weekly total having far exceeded 150mm. This u-seasonal rainfall has disrupted harvest and hay production and in the worst scenarios has seen severe downgrading of both hay and grain, while some areas in the eastern wheatbelt were received heavy hail.

Although the full extent of damage is yet to be fully realised many feeders are still optimistic that were will be greater availability this year to large volumes of cheap barley and wheat with cow and calf producers also hopeful this will see higher values for their stock. The end of this week also sees the beginning of the mated female sales, which should be a useful gauge as to the attitudes of industry either positive or negative. Saleyard numbers were slightly lower this week, but higher than expected with many predicting the very wet condition in the Great Southern would deter numbers, but despite this Midland remained the largest of the three major sales.

Cows and bulls dearer

As is normally the case at this time of year in WA the turnoff of new season vealers has increased with all markets recording larger supplies included in their respective yardings. Despite this the majority remained of medium and lightweight. Heavier claves continue to receive a solid local trade ad retailer demand, while medium drafts of steers continue to record a stronger interest from both feeders and south western restocker. With the Great Southern sale reverting to its two day selling format next week it is expected that vealer supplies will jump sharply and also create an increase in total weight with larger supplies of heavy calves available. The quality of grass finished trade weight yearling steers and heifer was maintained and these were met by a steady local trade demand, despite steers not recording the live export interest of the previous few weeks.

Heavy weight steers and bullock numbers remained limited with little or no change realised in values, while the cow market saw marginal gains recorded in medium and heavy weight categories due to a more active trade inquiry. Heavy weight bull values were also marginally dearer with a similar increase in trade demand the cause.

New South Wales

Yardings rise

Throughput rose at MLA’s NLRS reported markets despite widespread rain over large areas. Seasonal factors have had less affect on numbers in recent weeks as producers maintain their traditional spring selling program while prices remain reasonably solid.

Dubbo recorded the most significant rise of 1,235 to 3445 head, including a good number of well bred but lighter conditioned yearlings suitable for restockers and feeders. This feature was also evident at Wagga where numbers lifted for a yarding that contained limited numbers of prime young cattle. The few prime vealers penned met strong enquiry to lift 6¢ to 8¢/kg. Despite the recent good rain in northern areas, Gunnedah, Inverell and Armidale all had significantly larger offerings. CTLX Carcoar, Forbes and Scone yarded fewer cattle in offerings that were generally of mixed quality.

Most centres continued yard a variable selection with well finished prime lots alongside restocker and feeder cattle. Markets varied between centres and stock categories averaged dearer for most categories of young cattle. There were some signs of caution as all players attempt to assess the longer term economic outlook. Restockers were the most likely to reflect a more optimistic note and maintained a strong market for suitable stock.

The export market was also mixed. Grown steers and bullocks, although mainly in limited numbers, suffered further price falls of around 4¢ to 8¢/kg. Fewer 2 tooth lots were evident and this was a factor in the market slide. Cows met more solid competition to be mainly 1¢ to 4¢/kg cheaper.

Market Stronger

Young cattle prices varied but averaged dearer, particularly for feedlot steers. Limited numbers of light vealers to slaughter were also in demand with light steers lifting 4¢ to average 195¢/kg. Those to restockers were also dearer by 8¢ and averaged 192¢/kg. Light slaughter vealer heifers reached 216¢/kg to be 2¢/kg dearer. Light weight yearling steers to restockers showed little change after selling from 150¢ to 214¢/kg but both medium and heavy feeder steers lifted 10¢ to 11¢ to average 178¢with the best of the medium weights reaching 197¢/kg. Medium and heavy weight steers to processors were 2¢ to 4¢ dearer, averaging 180¢/kg. Most categories of yearling heifers regained some recent lost ground, lifting 2¢ to 6¢ but medium weights to feeders were 13¢ dearer, averaging 166¢/kg.

Export cattle struggled at all centres although the light grown steers to feeder lifted 2¢ to average 179¢/kg. Heavy weights to slaughter were 2¢ to 7¢ cheaper ranging from 150¢ to 184¢ and averaging 173¢/kg. Grown heifers also lost 5¢ and averaged 160¢/kg. Light weight D2 cows fared worst among the cows, losing 13¢ to average 111c¢/kg. The medium D3s were 3c¢ cheaper while the heavy 4 scores were just 1¢ cheaper, reaching 158¢ and averaging 142¢/kg.

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