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Weekly Australian Cattle Summary

01 May 2009
Meat & Livestock Australia

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

Victoria weekly cattle summary

Drought relief tightens supply

Cattle supply across MLA’s NLRS reported physical markets dropped 11 per cent on last week. Whilst the majority of saleyards witnessed slight reductions, a few markets went against the trend and offered larger yardings.

The weekend rain in central and southern NSW had major implications for several NSW markets. The rain provided a sign of relief for severely drought stricken farmers in the south and allowed several producers to hold on and add condition to available stock. The falls of rain also had the effect of restricting the movement of cattle and encouraging farmers to prepare for winter cropping, all of which had adverse effects on yarding sizes. Such implications reduced Wagga by 26 per cent, Inverell by a further 34 per cent and Gunnedah by 14 per cent. Despite the majority of markets yarding fewer head, Dubbo went against the trend with a 33 per cent increase in throughput, brought on by the recent cooler weather.

The fall in numbers was heavily influenced by large declines in the number of young cattle offered. There were 12 per cent less vealer steers yarded of which 62 per cent went to restockers. Yearling steers declined 11 per cent where 53 per cent went to feeders and an increased proportion to slaughter. A greater percentage of yearling heifers went to processors and restockers however their throughput declined 22 per cent.

In the grown cattle portion, 15 per cent less grown steers were yarded however 23 per cent more went to feeders than the previous week. Going against the trend was a 3 per cent rise in the number of cows yarded which was captured predominantly by processors who account for 94 per cent of the cow market.

Lightweight vealer steers to restockers improved 2¢ to 183¢ after selling to 211¢/kg. The medium weights returning to the paddock eased slightly to 174¢ with a top of 205¢ whilst those to slaughter sold to 194¢/kg. The medium weight C2 vealer heifers improved 2¢ to average 161¢/kg. Lightweight C2 yearling steers to restockers sold up 3¢ to top at 204¢/kg. Medium weights to feeders ranged from 140¢ to 194¢ whilst heavyweight C3’s averaged 171¢ to be 1¢/kg dearer. Lightweight C2 feeder heifers improved 6c to top at 167¢ whilst the medium weights averaged 157¢/kg.

Medium weight C2 grown steers to feeders improved 8¢ to 156¢ whilst the C3’s held firm at 162¢ with a top of 173¢/kg. Heavyweights C3’s to slaughter also held firm at 155¢ with sales to 170¢/kg. Well conditioned C4 bullocks lifted 7¢ to range from 150¢ to 168¢/kg. Medium weight C3 heifers to slaughter, improved 2¢ with most sales around 150¢/kg. Lightweight D2 cows to processors improved 2¢ to average close to 106¢/kg. A good supply of medium weight D2 cows averaged 110¢ with sales to 121¢/kg. Well conditioned heavyweight D muscled cows ranged from 109¢ to 140¢ to finish up to 3¢/kg dearer.

SA weekly cattle summary

Smaller yardings

As expected after last weekends amazing rainfall virtually state wide, cattle numbers retreated. The SA LE’s yarding nearly halved for a mixed quality run that sold to fluctuating competition from the usual buyers, that also included two who had been missing in action for a long period. Even a couple of regular feeder orders were absent, which wasn’t all that bad as there were only a small number of better bred 2 scores available that tended to sell at dearer prices.

Naracoorte’s numbers fell substantially and featured many young cattle in 2 score condition that attracted a myriad of orders at generally dearer levels, as the weekend rains sparked a decent dose of grass fever.

Mt. Gambier, however had a larger, albeit only slightly larger yarding that featured mixed quality runs of young cattle and prime grown steers. There was also varying quality cows that featured some magnificent heavy supplementary fed Friesians that ranged from 725 to 815kg and sold at 132¢/kg. Millicent saleyard is now in its fortnightly mode.

There was strong trade and processor competition from the usual SA and Victorian buyers, with feeders and restockers also providing solid activity over a wide range of weights and quality, with a decent dose of grass fever now that good rains have been recorded in most regions. With a NSW order back again in the South East there were expectations that grown steer prices would increase, however even without the extra input there was a dearer trend as some sales rose to 180¢/kg.

A dearer trend

The smaller numbers tended to attract a dearer trend. Vealer steers were sourced mainly by feeder and restocker orders between 155¢ and 190¢ at rates 5¢ to 9¢ dearer, with some light D2 sales 38¢/kg dearer at Mt. Gambier. Trade purchases were limited and from 170¢ to 236¢, or mainly 5¢ to 9¢/kg dearer. Vealer heifers sold to that trade between 162¢ to 220¢/kg for the C and B muscled at prices 4¢ to 20¢ dearer; while feeder and restocker orders paid from 130¢ to 176c/kg over varying quality, or generally 2¢ to 5¢/kg more. Yearling steers sold mainly to feeder and restocker activity between 146¢ and 176¢, with wholesale and processor purchases from 153¢ to 198¢/kg. This led to most attracting rates 1¢ to 10¢/kg higher. Yearling heifers followed suit as C3 sales ranged between 153¢ and 198¢, with D3 sales 130¢ to 160¢/kg to the trade at rates 3¢ to 10¢/kg higher.

Grown steer prices averaged 6¢ higher, as C3 and C4 sales ranged mainly between 164¢ and 180¢, with carcase weight prices averaging 310¢/kg. Cows finished the week generally 1¢ to 4¢ dearer, with most carcase weight prices ranging between 245¢ and 270¢/kg.

WA weekly cattle summary

Supply levels similar

The north of the state has recorded some wide spread but limited thunderstorm activity which has brought some slight falls of rain. Much of the Gascoyne however remains fine and dry. This was also the case in the southern Agricultural districts. Limited frontal activity was realised, which brought very light falls of moisture to the southern coastal regions across the Esperance and onto through the Eucla coast. The vast majority of the Agricultural regions however remained fine and dry, which has begun to concern producers in relation to cropping programmes with a percentage now planting seed dry.

Live export activity continues to increase in the north of the state as weather conditions become more conducive to mustering, even though there are still ships being loaded from southern ports with the main destinations being Southeast Asia.

Saleyard numbers were stable, despite the public holiday Monday causing the cancellation of the Southwest’s sale early in the week. The composition of both Midland and the Great Southern sales remained similar. Heavy weight steer, bullock and grown heifer supplies although slightly larger than recent weeks continued to account for a small percentage of total numbers. Trade weight yearling volumes remained fair with the majority of these once again being grass fed.

As has been the case since entry into the New Year young store grades remained the largest classes to be sold with the majority of these sourced from local and not pastoral regions.

Cow market strengthens

Vealer supplies remain extremely low and make up only very small percentages of either yarding with the majority being sold being less than 160kg lwt. Demand for these from local processors and retailers continued firmly with little change in rates, while restocker interest was also maintained. The small numbers of medium and heavy weight vealers enjoyed a continued reasonable trade and feeder interest. The trade weight yearling steer and heifer markets were again well supported by local trade, feeder and a selective live export demand and competition. This ensured solid market conditions and firm rates for both sexes with this demand expected by agents to continue for the foreseeable future. There was an improvement in the quality of store yearling quality, particularly in the Great Southern’s yarding.

Increased competition was recorded for both medium and heavier weighted classes of steers and heifers. This was caused by the addition of several feeder orders with live export interest also again maintained. Heavy weight steer and bullock rates were quoted at slightly lower rates. The cow and heavy heifer markets both benefited increased processors competition as dearer rates were recorded.

NSW weekly cattle summary

Drought relief tightens supply

Cattle supply across MLA’s NLRS reported physical markets dropped 11 per cent on last week. Whilst the majority of saleyards witnessed slight reductions, a few markets went against the trend and offered larger yardings.

The weekend rain in central and southern NSW had major implications for several NSW markets. The rain provided a sign of relief for severely drought stricken farmers in the south and allowed several producers to hold on and add condition to available stock. The falls of rain also had the effect of restricting the movement of cattle and encouraging farmers to prepare for winter cropping, all of which had adverse effects on yarding sizes. Such implications reduced Wagga by 26 per cent, Inverell by a further 34 per cent and Gunnedah by 14 per cent. Despite the majority of markets yarding fewer head, Dubbo went against the trend with a 33 per cent increase in throughput, brought on by the recent cooler weather.

The fall in numbers was heavily influenced by large declines in the number of young cattle offered. There were 12 per cent less vealer steers yarded of which 62 per cent went to restockers. Yearling steers declined 11 per cent where 53 per cent went to feeders and an increased proportion to slaughter. A greater percentage of yearling heifers went to processors and restockers however their throughput declined 22 per cent.

In the grown cattle portion, 15 per cent less grown steers were yarded however 23 per cent more went to feeders than the previous week. Going against the trend was a 3 per cent rise in the number of cows yarded which was captured predominantly by processors who account for 94 per cent of the cow market.

Rainfall instigates improved prices

Lightweight vealer steers to restockers improved 2¢ to 183¢ after selling to 211¢/kg. The medium weights returning to the paddock eased slightly to 174¢ with a top of 205¢ whilst those to slaughter sold to 194¢/kg. The medium weight C2 vealer heifers improved 2¢ to average 161¢/kg. Lightweight C2 yearling steers to restockers sold up 3¢ to top at 204¢/kg. Medium weights to feeders ranged from 140¢ to 194¢ whilst heavyweight C3’s averaged 171¢ to be 1¢/kg dearer. Lightweight C2 feeder heifers improved 6c to top at 167¢ whilst the medium weights averaged 157¢/kg.

Medium weight C2 grown steers to feeders improved 8¢ to 156¢ whilst the C3’s held firm at 162¢ with a top of 173¢/kg. Heavyweights C3’s to slaughter also held firm at 155¢ with sales to 170¢/kg. Well conditioned C4 bullocks lifted 7¢ to range from 150¢ to 168¢/kg. Medium weight C3 heifers to slaughter, improved 2¢ with most sales around 150¢/kg. Lightweight D2 cows to processors improved 2¢ to average close to 106¢/kg. A good supply of medium weight D2 cows averaged 110¢ with sales to 121¢/kg. Well conditioned heavyweight D muscled cows ranged from 109¢ to 140¢ to finish up to 3¢/kg dearer.

QLD weekly cattle summary

Supply continues to lift

Numbers continued to climb to a higher level with physical markets covered by MLA’s NLRS recording an increase of 8 per cent. Buyer attendance at most markets was good and all were operating and keen to make purchases.

Overall quality varied from centre to centre and cows dominated the selling pens in most markets particularly in the south of the state. Calves and vealers are also increasing in numbers as some districts experienced the first frost for the year. This was most noticeable in the veal section with the heifer portion accounting for 30 per cent of the young cattle penned. Despite the huge numbers of slaughter grades of vealer heifer’s values generally remained firm, and even experienced a small rise in places. However calves could not sustain recent values and prices suffered reductions of 2¢ to 6¢/kg. Feeder cattle experienced an interesting scenario, with all feeder grades suffering price reductions of 5¢ to 6¢ at early week markets. Nevertheless by midweek most categories of feeder cattle returned to the previous week's level.

Values for export grades of steers bullocks and cows started the week receiving some improvement in value. By midweek cow prices were noticeably dearer gaining up to 9¢/kg for those in the 4 score range.

The sorghum harvest is continuing in central districts and the yields are keeping most growers happy. Southern districts are starting to move into the final phase of harvest at around 85 per cent completed, while in northern New South Wales some growers are starting to plant winter crop.

Export grades dearer

Calves to the trade lost 3¢ to average 160¢, and restocker grades fell 6¢ to average 180¢ with some to 208.6¢/kg. Vealer steers to restockers also eased with most around 182¢ while a small selection of slaughter grades improved in price with sales to 193.2¢/kg. The very large line-up of vealer heifers sold to the trade 2¢ better at 159¢ with some B muscle lines reaching 194.2¢/kg. Yearling steers to feed across all markets for the week averaged just 1¢ to 2¢/kg cheaper, with C2s averaging 167c, and the better C3s 171¢ with sales to 191.2¢/kg. Yearling heifers were well supplied and the largest number of feeder grades managed to hold firm at 157¢ with sales to 164.2¢/kg. Heavy weight local trade lines sold to 172.2¢ to average 2¢ less at 157¢/kg.

Medium weight grown steers suitable to feed sold very close to firm at 167¢ with some to 175¢/kg. Heavy steers to export slaughter averaged 162¢ with a few sales to 184.6¢/kg. The increased number of bullocks made to 175¢ to average 1¢ higher at 161¢/kg. Medium weight 2 score cows averaged 2¢ dearer at 117¢ and 3 scores gained a similar amount to average 127¢/kg. Good heavy cows were in the largest numbers and averaged 7¢ better at 140¢ with the occasional sale to 151.2¢/kg

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