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Weekly Australian Cattle Summary

29 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

Numbers withheld

Rain over some areas of the state assisted in reducing the supply of cattle. A further 11% was wiped from last week’s totals recorded at MLA’s NLRS reported sales. While the south east and eastern sales of Leongatha and Bairnsdale offered similar numbers, all others sales tendered fewer cattle. However, the tightening supply did nothing to reduce the number of plain condition cattle coming forward with the onset of winter, and continuing drought conditions despite some rain. Demand improved on the back of the smaller yardings, and all sales recorded prices that were unchanged to 8c/kg higher. With the lift in prices, it was interesting to note the Eastern Young Cattle Indicator (EYCI) at the close of trade on Thursday gained 9c on the previous week, to 322.75c/kg cwt. Also of interest is that this figure is 12c above the futures settlement figure of 310c/kg cwt for May, and still higher than the next month’s figure. This has been brought on by strong demand from lot feeders, restockers, and trade buyers.

Competition throughout the week has varied with strong demand at sales closer to the processing plants, and an influence of northern buyers at Shepparton and Wodonga. The huge amount of rain in NSW and Queensland stemmed the flow of cattle, which pushed buyers further south. Grown cattle prices in general have lifted a little, even though the $A has reached its highest level since the global downturn.

Price rises

Most of any price increase for vealers was not seen for the very best cattle, but for the reasonable to good quality C muscle vealers. The best quality B muscle vealers made from 190c to 237c with several pen lots consigned from Cann River making 225c to 232c/kg at Bairnsdale. What lifted the EYCI figure was the number of C muscle vealers and yearlings that made between 175c and 220c/kg. Lot feeders in particular, along with restockers, paid good money for plain and medium conditioned cattle with prices of 160c to 185c/kg not uncommon. However with the number of plain condition cattle offered across the state, buyers were very choosy paying between 110c and 155c/kg for a number of cattle.

The US price for manufacturing beef is down nearly 30cUS/lb year on year, but the exchange rate is better, giving processors more confidence in the market. This same scenario applies to trade with Japan. Bullock, cow and bull prices all lifted and average of 3c/kg for a very mixed selection of cattle. Bullocks made to 182c and averaged 172c/kg. Most of the cows sold were lean 1 and 2 scores, making between 85c and 132c/kg. Better quality cows made from 118c to 140c/kg.

SA weekly cattle summary

Similar numbers

Cattle numbers fell at the SA LE and Naracoorte; however both reductions were counter-acted by Mt. Gambier numbers rising. With many parts of the State missing out on last Sunday and Monday’s rainfall, there were mixed quality runs of young cattle at all sales. Grown steer and cow quality tended to improve, this particularly noticeable at Naracoorte and Mt. Gambier.

There was solid trade and processor competition from the usual SA and Victorian buyers, with tightening numbers probably being the main catalyst for a generally dearer trend materialising. Feeder and restocker orders were quite active, with a couple more at Naracoorte assisting prices. There was strong South East and Victorian processor competition for cows despite numbers increasing to 1,156 head at Naracoorte and featured nearly 50% of the total yarding. Mt. Gambier had large runs of Friesian cows from one property. Young 3 and 4 score cows sold over the 140¢ mark at Naracoorte, while old cows in 3 to 5 score condition sold above 130¢ at both South Eastern sales as carcase weight prices ranged mainly between 260¢ and 290¢/kg.

The SA LE’s yarding featured lines of pastoral bred yearling steers and heifers, cows and bulls in mainly 1 and 2 score condition and were reflecting the tough conditions most pastoral regions have been experiencing due to a lack of rain. The steers sold mainly between 142¢ and 178¢, the heifers 132¢ to 146¢ and the cows 90¢ to 101¢/kg.

Export categories dearer

Young cattle sold at varying prices with some sales dearer, and others cheaper. Small numbers of vealer steers sold mainly to feeder and restocker orders between 165¢ and 190¢ at rates generally 3¢ to 6¢/kg dearer. Trade purchases were limited and from 177¢ and 205¢ at rates unchanged to 3¢/kg cheaper. Vealer heifer sales were erratic as trade purchases ranged between 157¢ and 201¢, with isolated B muscle sales at 222¢/kg. Feeder and restocker orders paid mainly from 150¢ to 174¢/kg. This left prices varying between 2c to 4¢ cheaper, and 1¢ to 12¢/kg dearer. Light and medium weight yearling steers sold mainly to feeder and restocker orders between 160¢ and 180¢/kg. The trade sourced most heavy weights from 150¢ to 200¢/kg. This led to some sales being unchanged to 4¢ dearer, while others were 2¢ to 4¢/kg cheaper. Yearling heifers follow suit with C3 sales 160¢ to 175¢, and D3 sales 150¢ to 164¢/kg.

Grown steers were 1¢ to 5¢ dearer, and mainly between 164¢ to 182.5¢/kg or around a 318¢/kg cwt statewide average. Cows were generally 1¢ to 7¢ dearer with most 3 to 5 score beef cows selling between 125¢ and 142¢, or 250¢ to 290¢/kg cwt.

WA weekly cattle summary

Follow-up rain needed in southwest

There has been further thunderstorm activity in the north and north eastern pastoral regions of WA which brought further light rainfall to these areas. Mustering activity continues to increase its southern movement with many in the Pilbarra and Gascoyne now beginning their annual runs and this has seen the first live export boat of the season leave the port of Hedland. In the southwest of the country a week of fine and dry weather followed up the storms of the previous week. Germinations in pasture paddocks have been reasonably slow despite day time temperatures remaining warm. Subsequently supplementary feeding regimes remain in place and the lack of green feed due to lateness of the season has had a detrimental impact on early claves and their condition in traditional cow calf areas of the southwest. As was expected and predicted by agents, numbers in saleyards fell after the first decent rain of the season. The week of dry weather and subsequent lack of positive forecasts has however cast doubt on whether or not this trend will continue.

All three yards had lower numbers with the largest fall recorded in the Great Southern. As has been the case since early in the New Year the vast majority of cattle forwarded into saleyards were sourced from local Ag districts with pastoral supplies very low. Despite the still reasonable sizes of yarding the numbers of trade and heavy weight steers and heifers remained limited with quality continuing to be mixed. Young store grades remained the largest classes to be sold, while quality remained mixed.

Trade demand increases for weight

Vealer numbers continued to be limited with the majority of these remaining of light calf weights and subsequently local trade and retailer demand was maintained at similar levels. The small numbers of trade weight yearling steers and heifers continued to be of mixed quality as the majority were off grass with only tight supplies of grain finished drafts marketed through physical markets. Trade demand remained selective, while a weaker feeder interest was realised on steer drafts, but the limit supplies certainly had some sort of an impact on demand. The tight supplies of heavy weight steers and bullocks, coupled with a stronger demand for heavy cattle created an improvement in local and export trade competition that saw values rise between 5c to 10c/kg lwt. Heavy weight heifers on the other hand only maintained their levels despite the trade’s stronger demand for heavier grades of cattle. The stronger demand for cows in recent times saw stronger supplies forwarded into saleyards.

The larger volumes however failed to halt this increase in demand with the values for prime heavy weight cows again dearer as sales peaked in excess of 130c/kg lwt, while increased demand was also realised in heavy weight bull classes.

NSW weekly cattle summary

Throughput climbs before winter

Throughput lifted 6% across the state with the majority of markets yarding similar numbers to the previous week. The larger yarding was heavily influenced by Dubbo and Gunnedah penning 37% and 52% more cattle.

The larger yardings at various markets was driven by the annual turn off period as cooler temperatures become more apparent. Despite rainfall in the north and south of the state, yardings maintained high levels as producers offload in a bid to savour available feed for remaining stock. Going against the trend was Forbes which yarded 40% less cattle, offsetting the impact of larger yardings.

Young cattle and cows continue to make up the largest proportion of cattle yarded. Of the young cattle sector, 5% less vealer steers were yarded while heifer numbers lifted 8%, with processors capturing the increase. Yearling steer throughput climbed 20% with 33% more going to feeders.

The number of grown steers penned remained at similar levels to last week while 5% more cows were yarded. Restocker activity picked up considerably capturing 53% more while processors remained steady, still however capturing the majority of numbers.

The quality of cattle has generally improved on previous weeks. However yardings continue to be mixed with secondary lines making up the largest numbers. This combined with recent falls of rain reinvigorated restocker activity and sparked increased competition from feeders and the trade. Evidently, young cattle prices have soared with the Eastern Young Cattle Indicator (EYCI) improving 9¢ on previous week to settle at 322.75¢/kg cwt, the highest point since mid April.

Prices edge higher

Vealer steers to restockers improved 5¢ to average 175¢ for C2’s while those to slaughter sold to 196¢/kg. Heavyweight C2 lines ranged from 156¢ to 189¢ to average close to 176¢/kg. Medium weight C2 vealer heifers to slaughter ranged from 146¢ to 190¢ while those returning to the paddock improved 3¢ to average 161¢/kg. Medium weight C2 yearling steers to feeders ranged from 136¢ to 188¢/kg. The C3’s to slaughter improved 2¢ to average 172¢ with sales to 195¢/kg. Lightweight C2 yearling heifers to feeders ranged from 138¢ to 175¢ while heavyweight C3’s to slaughter averaged 158¢ with sales to 179¢/kg.

Medium weight C2 grown steers to feeders eased 3¢ - to 151¢ while heavyweights to slaughter ranged from 140¢ to 178¢/kg. The good run of C3 bullocks improved 2¢ - to 153¢ with sales to 169¢/kg. The medium weight C3 grown heifers to slaughter ranged from 129¢ to 165¢ to average 146¢/kg. Medium weight D2 cows to slaughter ranged from 70¢ to 121¢ while 3 scores averaged 118¢ with sales to 130¢/kg. Heavyweight D3’s eased 1¢ to average 123¢ while better finished 4 scores held firm at 128¢ with sales to 141¢/kg. Bulls sold to a top of 185¢ to average close to 126¢/kg.

QLD weekly cattle summary

Numbers remained unchanged

Despite the good to useful falls of rain across large areas of the state supply of stock at physical markets covered by MLAs NLRS remained relatively unchanged. The trend the previous week of produces weaning straight into the saleyards continued and resulted in young cattle dominating the selling pens in a number of centres. A few more heavy steers and bullocks came forward nevertheless cows were well supplied and made up the major portion of the grown cattle section. The attendants of export buyers at most markets was generally good and included extra numbers of restocker buyers plus the normal feeder operators. Apart from some adjustments to average prices due to quality, the strong activity from feeder operator’s restockers and the trade saw values for young cattle in the south of the state experienced some improvement. Regardless of the ample supplies of vealer heifers to the trade values were able to improve by 6¢/kg. The extra restocker competition resulted in lightweight yearling steers lifting in value by up to 12¢/kg. Despite the large supply of yearling heifers at Dalby feeder operators were able to absorb the extra numbers plus lift average prices, and some of this demand flowed onto trade descriptions.

Export grades generally received very little response from the good falls of rain. Across all markets slaughter grades of heavy steers and bullocks only improved slightly by 2¢ to 4¢/kg. However cow prices tended to struggle at times commencing the week on a firm trend and by midweek demand was subdued and some classes eased by 1¢ to 2¢/kg.

Restocker grades dearer

Calves to the trade averaged 165¢ and made to 180¢ while restocker lines sold to a top of 206.2¢ to average 176¢/kg. The vast majority of vealer steers either sold to feeders or restockers with both classes averaging very close to 184¢/kg. The largest sample of vealer heifers sold to the trade 6¢ better at 161¢, while a selected few sold to local butchers at 201.2¢/kg. Lightweight yearling steers to restockers improved 12¢ with a large sample averaging 174¢ with sales to 186.2¢/kg. The better end of the feeders average close to 170¢, and a small selection to the trade made to 192.6¢/kg. Yearling heifers to feed generally sold in the 150¢ range and local trade descriptions averaged a similar amount with the occasional B muscle line reaching 194.6¢/kg.

Medium weight grown steers to feed sold in a range from 150¢ to 174.2¢ with most close to 161¢/kg. Heavy steers destined for export slaughter made to 168.2¢ to average 2¢ dearer at just under 160¢/kg. A better line-up of bullocks averaged 159¢ and made to 175¢/kg. Lightweight 1 score cows averaged 92¢, and medium weight 2 scores 111¢/kg. Good heavy cows made to a top of 143.6¢ with a fair supply averaging 132¢/kg. Heavy bulls made to 147.2¢ to average 134¢/kg.

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