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Weekly Australian Cattle Summary

19 June 2009
Meat & Livestock Australia

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

Victorian weekly cattle summary

Numbers lift

A return to the full trading week resulted in a return of Monday sales, and a larger supply of cattle offered at MLA’s NLRS reported markets. It is normally expected that the missed markets are going to be large, in an attempt to make up for the previous week. However, this was not the case at Pakenham and Ballarat as numbers remained low leading to higher prices. Despite the significant lift in overall numbers and a reduction in quality, prices held firm to dearer across all categories. As a result the EYCI finished Thursday’s markets at 334.75¢, up 5.25¢ on last week and 5.50¢/kg cwt dearer than the corresponding week last year.

Both feed lots and processors have been increasingly active over the past week in order to secure numbers for the winter months. Such implications combined with strong domestic retail meat sales have led to strong demand for a large range of C and D muscle steers and heifers. Despite international demand in tatters and the high A$, export grades have all sold to solid competition. As a result, prices have reached record levels for the year. Also aiding to the dearer trend has been the significant influx of competition from other states as restockers, feeders and processors compete heavily for suitable lines. At the conclusion of Thursday markets, the state indicators finished firm to dearer on the previous week. Vealer steers improved 3¢ – to 196¢ while the heifers improved a further 9¢ – to 189¢/kg. Yearling steer lifted 6¢ to settle at 192¢ while both Bullocks and cows held firm at 177¢ and 135¢/kg respectively.

Prices generally higher

Across the state, medium weight vealer steers to feeders ranged from 156¢ to 196¢ to average close to 184¢/kg. Medium weight C2 yearling steers improved 8c in value as prices ranged from 158¢ to 192¢/kg. Heavyweight C3 yearling steer to slaughter held firm at 185¢ with sales to 215¢/kg. Similar lines of yearling heifers ranged from 150¢ to 195¢ to average close to 172¢/kg.

Young cattle prices continue to reach the highest levels in Gippsland sales, which has been the result of the excellent quality vealers and supplementary fed cattle offered. Vealer prices peaked at 237¢, and supplementary fed yearlings to 235¢/kg in Gippsland, while at others sales, similar cattle reached 219¢/kg.

Prices for prime C3 and C4 grown steers peaked at 186.2¢ while the few good B muscle bullocks made 188¢/kg at Shepparton. Across the state most grown steers and bullocks averaged around 177¢/kg. Friesian bullocks made 138¢ to 154¢ while manufacturing steers ranged from 150¢ to166¢/kg. Although cow price varied due to quality, prices were mostly dearer to average 270¢/kg. Better quality beef cows made from 128¢ to 154¢, and numerous sales of large frame dairy cows ranged between 120¢ to138¢/kg.

SA weekly cattle summary

Larger yardings

Numbers remained similar at the SA LE even after last week’s missed market due to the Queens Birthday holiday. The sale featured mainly good quality young cattle that drew strong competition from the usual local and interstate buyers. Feeder orders were also active on suitable C2 yearling steers, and a few yearling heifers, together with light and medium weight cows in 1 and 2 score condition. There were a few lines of pastoral bred yearling steers penned that sold from 106¢ to 152¢/kg to the trade. The operating processors lifted their sights cows with most 3 to 4 scores selling between 123¢ and 149¢/kg.

Naracoorte’s yarding rose as producers took advantage of last week’s improved prices, and also perhaps trying to beat the looming taxation deadline. The closure of Teys Bros plant for a six week maintenance break could also be another reason. There was an improvement in young cattle quality, albeit still quite mixed. However, this didn’t deter the usual buying fraternity as feeder and restocker orders kept them honest on most 2 score vealers and yearlings. Another sizable yarding of cows in mixed quality runs sold to strong South East, Victorian and NSW competition at generally dearer levels as a few more sales rose above the 150¢/kg lwt mark.

Mt. Gambier’s yarding increased and sold to strong competition from all of the usual buyers at generally dearer levels, with only cow prices tending to retreat. Millicent could only pen 160 cattle for its fortnightly sale. Feeder and restocker orders were active over a wide range of weights and quality at generally dearer levels.

Fluctuating trends

Trade purchases of vealer steers were limited with all sales from 182¢ to 214¢/kg. Feeder and restocker orders sourced the majority from 175¢ to 200¢/kg, at 1¢ to 11¢kg dearer. Vealer heifer sales were mainly 2¢ to 11¢/kg cheaper, with only isolated sales being dearer. This left most heifers to the trade selling from 157¢ to 217¢, with feeder, backgrounding and restocker rates mainly between141¢ and 178¢/kg. Most 3 score yearling steers were sourced by the trade from 169¢ to 195¢, with B muscled sales to 213¢ at rates unchanged to 6¢/kg dearer. Most C2 steers finished with feeder and restocker orders between 150¢ and 187¢/kg at varying prices. Yearling heifer sales followed suit with C3 sales 165¢ to 195¢, and the D3’s 140¢ to 165¢/kg. This led to varying trends of unchanged to 9¢ dearer, and around 10¢/kg cheaper on others.

Grown steer prices were 2¢ to 6¢/kg dearer, with C3 and C4 sales mostly 175¢ to 191¢ and averaging close to 333¢/kg cwt. Cow prices tended to vary around 3¢/kg either side of unchanged with most 3 to 5 score sales ranging from 123¢ to 152¢, or mainly in a 260¢ to 300¢/kg cwt price range.

WA weekly cattle summary

Further rainfall but season in balance

The southern Agricultural districts received more mixed fortunes as several cold fronts brought rainfall late in the week. The majority of falls were concentrated on coastal regions with eastern areas again receiving limited falls. The warmer than usual conditions have aided pasture growth in the traditional cattle producing areas of the southwest in the past month, but supplementary feeding continues as a daily chore for most producers. Live export activity continues in the north of the state as this remains the marketing tool of choice for pastoralists, while drying conditions and a general lack of winter moisture in areas in and around the Gascoyne could perhaps see earlier than usual mustering in these areas and a turnoff of solid numbers of surplus drafts into Midland saleyards in the near future. Despite this, the numbers of pastoral cattle currently being forwarded into Midland for sale remain relatively limited.

Numbers were slightly lower this week in line with what would normally be expected at this time of year. The southwest remains the smallest of the three major sales, while the Great Southern sale also had reduced numbers penned and if agent reports are correct there could be a sharp down turn in both these sales numbers in the short term. The numbers of heavy weight steers and heifers in saleyards continued despite the strong current demand from the processing sector. Trade weight yearling steer and heifer volumes were also relatively tight, while the supplies of young store grades remained healthy with this also the case in cow classes.

Heavy cattle demand continues

As would be expected at this time of year the supplies of vealers were all but non-existent irrespective of region, with only calf weights being forwarded into saleyards and these also remaining in tight supply. Local retailer and trade demand continue to be very buoyant on these classes. The demand for grass and predominately grain finished yearlings in WA remains low as pressure continues to be applied to the local trade from cheaper imported product coming out of the eastern states. However, despite this the market did rebound on all finished yearling classes, after the weaker trade demand and subsequent cheaper values of the previous week. A selective feeder demand was also realised on both steers and heifers. Demand for stores improved this week due to an increase in restocker demand that then influenced the activities of the feeder sector with the majority of sales, irrespective of sex or weight up by 5c/kg.

The small numbers of heavy weight steers and bullocks recorded another solid local and export processor demand with little or no change realised in values. Heavy weight heifer values improved, while demand for cows of any weight was again another feature of all physical markets.

NSW weekly cattle summary

Supply lifts as winter sell off continues

Medium weight C2 vealer steers to restockers improved 2¢ to 183¢ while heavyweight 3 scores sold to 207¢ to average close to 197¢/kg. Medium weight C2 vealer heifers lifted 1¢ as values ranged from 140¢ to 183¢ while heavyweights sold to a top of 210¢/kg. Lightweight yearling steers to restockers made to 207¢ while medium weights to feeders averaged 181¢ with sales to 193¢/kg. Heifers to similar orders improved 9¢ to 168¢ with sales to 179¢/kg. Good quality yearling heifers to slaughter ranged from 152¢ to 200¢ to average close to 169¢/kg.

Medium weight grown steers to feeders improved 3¢ as values ranged from 154¢ to 176¢/kg. The well finished heavyweights to slaughter averaged 164¢ with sales to 181¢/kg. The good quality 3 and 4 score bullocks improved 4¢ to 8c as values ranged from 152¢ to 181¢/kg. Medium weight grown heifers to processors improved in values as prices averaged 156¢ with sales to 174¢/kg. Medium weight D2 cows made to 132¢ while the 3 scores lifted 3¢ to 124¢ with sales to 141¢/kg. A good run of well finished heavyweights averaged 6¢ dearer as the 3 and 4 scores ranged from 112¢ to 153¢/kg.

Queensland cattle summary

OTH rates climb

In the return to the full working week and with all markets operating it was not surprising that throughput at MLA’s NLRS reported markets increased 28 per cent. Only Murgon and Toowoomba Landmark offered smaller yardings while Dalby increased and accounted for 45 per cent of the state yarding.

Quality was generally mixed although properly finished heavy cattle are becoming harder to source. This is highlighted by the increasing number of 3 score heavy steers and bullocks. There were some good milk vealers and as has been the case for a number of weeks now, most of the finished cattle have had some form of supplementary feeding.

Young cattle accounted for around 56 per cent of the yarding with just over half of these being vealers. Over 60 per cent of vealers were purchased by feeders or restockers and on the other hand, just 29 per cent of the yearlings were purchased for slaughter. Cows were again the largest individual category offered, accounting for 45 per cent of the grown cattle,

A varied physical market price trend was evident however most categories were firm to dearer. There were however some grades, and in most cases these were light or medium weights, that were dealt losses.

For the first time in many weeks, over the hooks prices increased for the majority of categories around 10¢/kg cwt. This was the result of the short week and further recent rain tightening supplies. Processors are also looking to attract finished cattle. There were some processors that left rates unchanged due to the tight margins they are operating under currently which is due to the strong value of the A$ and a general lack of demand domestically and locally for beef.

Varied price trends

Only a handful of calves were offered with most sales ranging from 168¢ to 174¢ as a small number sold to restockers to a top of 187.2¢/kg. Light C2 vealer steers returning to the paddock topped at 207.2¢ as medium weights remained firm at 188¢/kg. The plainer medium weights though were able to increase 12¢ to average 174¢/kg. The few better C3 vealer steers to slaughter made around 182¢/kg. Most of the vealer heifers were medium weights selling to the local butcher trade at 165¢ to be 6¢/kg dearer. Medium weight yearling steers to feeders improved 5¢ after selling to 193.6¢ to average close to 174¢/kg. The good heavy yearling steers to slaughter made to 201.2c to average 171¢/kg. Lean C2 medium weight yearling heifers were 4¢ dearer while the heavy C3s eased slightly to average 155¢ and 160¢/kg respectively.

The better medium weight grown steers gained 6¢ to 164¢ as the plainer D3s were able to improve 3¢/kg. Heavy C3 steers averaged 159c while the C4s sold closer to 170¢ after topping at 181.2¢/kg. The few better bullocks averaged from 161¢ to 168¢/kg. Medium weight D3 cows improved slightly to 126.6¢, as heavy D4s improved 3¢ to average almost 140¢/kg. The top of the heavy C3 cows made to 147.2¢/kg.

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