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Weekly Australian Cattle Summary

07 August 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 steady

Across all markets reported by MLA’s NLRS, supply was unchanged with Pakenham yarding more cattle, but this was equalled by falls at other sales.

There was some price movement recorded although in most cases it was only minor. Generally price changes were 2¢ to 6¢/kg either way of last week. The EYCI at the close of trade on Thursday highlights the steady market that is occurring as it recorded a 0.75¢ increase on last week to 345¢/kg.

Some of the best quality heavy muscle vealers and supplementary fed yearlings however were cheaper. The continued soft demand from the retail trade for bodies of beef has led to this situation, and it will be interesting to see how the market copes when supply eventually increases.

Competition from feedlots was subdued to some degree after solid demand in recent weeks, although prices for most steers were close to firm. The major difference was realised for a run of well bred heifers that averaged 6¢/kg cheaper.

Demand for grown steers, bullocks and cows varied greatly across the state with some bullock sales quoted as firm, while at Wodonga prices lost 12¢ to 13¢/kg with some of the processors opting to take a wait and see approach. Despite the A$ lifting even further during the week, demand remained strong for cows. Those cows that were 3¢ to 6¢/kg cheaper was due to processors not being prepared to pay as much money for poor yielding lines.

Mixed prices

Despite being cheaper, the top end of the vealers and yearlings still reached some very good prices with most of these B muscle cattle making from 194¢ for heavy weights, to 230¢/kg for high yielding European breed cattle. There were many sales of C muscle vealers and yearlings between 165¢ and 199¢/kg with some isolated sales to 215¢/kg. Feedlot buyers paid mostly from 165¢ to 195¢ for better quality steers and heifers, but they were also purchasing plainer condition cattle between 135¢ and 165¢/kg.

While grown steer and bullock prices at Shepparton and Pakenham were from 184¢ to 200¢/kg, both Wodonga and Warrnambool experienced prices ranging between 167¢ and 188¢/kg.

Next week an export processor will be closing for three weeks for maintenance, and this is expected to cause supply to all particularly at Gippsland sales. Demand remained strong for better quality beef cows with many sales between 140¢ and 163¢/kg. The higher prices were paid for young cows with strong competition assisted by local wholesalers. There was a preference for heavy lean cows, which made from 125¢ to 154¢/kg. The lean light cows eased 6¢/kg making from 80¢ to 132¢/kg.

SA weekly cattle summary

Larger yardings

There were larger yardings at all physical markets reported by MLA’s NLRS which was probably due to the improved prices paid in recent weeks. However, with a strengthening A$ and a South Eastern processor not fully back in operation after their long maintenance break, combining with soft competition from the usual trade and processor buyers; most categories have attracted a weaker trend.

This was despite quality remaining quite good and the usual trade orders being backed up by strong feeder and restocker activity. Angus vealer and yearling steers were high on their shopping lists as a number of sales rose up to 200¢/kg.

The SA LE increased around 24% in a generally good quality yarding, with the vealers in small runs selling mainly to local butcher and wholesale orders. Feeders were active on well bred vealer and light and medium weight yearling steers, albeit at mainly lower levels for the yearlings. Trade purchases also followed the weaker trend however C3 medium weight heifers bucked that trend by being dearer. Some pastoral lines were also offered and should be pleasing for their breeders as D2 light yearling steers sold at 192¢, with a C3 sale at 187¢/kg. The D3 heifers sold from 147¢ to 153¢/kg.

Naracoorte lifted only slightly while at Mt. Gambier supply climbed around 15%, with both markets featuring increased numbers of 4 to 6 score heavy cows that sold mainly below 150¢/kg. Young cattle to the trade were cheaper, while feeder and restocker orders were generally dearer. Grown steers and cows were cheaper, while bull prices were definitely dearer.

Fluctuating demand

Vealer steers to feeder and restocker orders sold between 185¢ and 200¢ to be around 6¢/kg dearer. Limited trade and local butcher purchases were from 195¢ to 218¢/kg. Vealer heifers with the trade sourced a wide range of quality which sold between 155¢ and 214¢/kg to be 1¢ to 2¢/kg cheaper. Feeders and restockers paid from 160¢ to 185¢/kg for mainly lightweight heifers. The trade secured most B and C muscled yearling steers between 178¢ and 199¢ at prices up to 9¢/kg less. However, C2 sales to feeder and restocker activity tended to fluctuate, with most selling from 157¢ to 199¢/kg. Yearling heifer C3 sales were mainly 2¢ to 6¢ cheaper, with a few lightweights 6¢/kg dearer. D3 sales were 4¢ cheaper selling from 138¢ to 178¢, with feeder and restocker purchases 126¢ to 182¢/kg.

Processors lowered their rates as quality slipped on C3 and C4 grown steers that sold mainly between 174¢ and 190¢, and averaged 330¢/kg cwt statewide. Most cows were 1¢ to 8¢ cheaper with most 3 to 5 score beef cows selling from 119¢ to 152¢, as the dairy D2 to D4 sales were from 114¢ to 137¢/kg. This left most carcase weight prices in a 260¢ to 295¢/kg range.

WA weekly cattle summary

Seasonal fortunes rise

The south-western agriculture regions received some handy rainfall towards the end of the week bringing to an end almost two weeks of fine and dry weather. This has further buoyed feed and water levels along with bringing further hope for crop yields. Forecasts have predicted that there will be further rainfall across the weekend and into at least half way through next week.

In the north of the state mustering activity in the Kimberley has begun to slow with activity further south on the increase. Live export activity remains strong in the north as would be expected at this time of year and continues to be the sales option of choice for producers.

Midland’s yarding continues to see strong supplies of pastoral cattle and these account for the majority of this markets numbers. Supplies of local cattle from the agricultural regions remain tight, as would be expected at this time of year with fewer supplies forwarded into both the Great Southern and southwest sales. These numbers are predicted will remain low for at least a month until grass finished drafts begin to be witnessed as we enter into the spring period.

Vealer supplies are all but non-existent at this time of year and remain confined to lightweight calf classes. Trade weight yearling steer and heifer numbers continue to be tight and this has created a spike in local trade demand.

Heavy weight steers, bullocks and heifers were limited, while cow volumes continue to be fair on the back solid trade demand and subsequent market conditions.

Trade rates improve

Demand from the local trade and retailer sector remains sold on lightweight calves with market conditions very stable. Medium and heavy weight vealer numbers are extremely low and demand from the local trade has continued to be strong and firm with plainer conditioned drafts recording a reasonable restocker demand also. The tight supplies of yearling trade weight cattle have had a positive effect on local trade demand with values recorded at higher levels in favour of the vendor irrespective of sex. The store yearling market continues to be buoyed by a solid restocker and feeder demand with little or no significant changes realised in rates irrespective of weight or sex.

The tight supplies of heavy weight steers and bullocks has created further increases in trade demand and both these classes realised dearer values of up to 10¢kg. A similar case and rise in value was also recorded in heavy weight mature heifer classes. As has been the case in recent months a strong demand continues to be seen from both the domestic and export processing sectors for cows with heavy weight 3 and 4 score cows gaining approximately 5¢/kg on last week with bulls also similarly dearer.

NSW weekly cattle summary

Throughput on the rise

Throughput across MLA’s NLRS reported saleyards increased this week with a 16% lift in overall cattle yarded. Dubbo and Tamworth both yarded 38% and 45% more head respectively contributing to the overall higher yarding. With areas of Queensland and NSW beginning to dry out, more cattle have been attracted to the market. The recent improved prices have also contributed to the increased supply. However a number of markets went against the trend this week as overall state throughput remains relatively subdued.

The higher throughput levels were heavily influenced by a 16% increase in yearling heifers and a 12% increase in grown steers offered. Feeders and processors captured the majority of the increase, while the other buying sectors obtained similar numbers. Vealer steers and heifer supply held relatively stable, while the number of yearling steers yarded increased 6%, which was captured by processors. Cow numbers dropped slightly with restockers losing numbers with slightly more going to processors.

NSW average weekly slaughter eased 1% on last year with the major reason being the continued rise of the A$ throughout the month. These conditions restricted buying in some export markets which led to reduced slaughter demand with some processors reducing shifts or going on annual maintenance breaks. The diminishing value of some bi-products over recent weeks has also impacted on the already restricted slaughter market.

Quality across reported markets is improving with several good runs of crop or supplementary fed cattle offered. The young cattle market continues to be driven by the feedlot sector while trade competition has also risen.

Prices hold around firm

Medium weight C2 vealer steers to slaughter held firm at 189¢ while a large sample to restockers averaged 192¢ with sales to 218¢/kg. The majority of medium weight vealer heifers went to slaughter with most sales around 179¢ while those to restockers improved 2¢ to 174¢/kg. Feeders were active on medium weight yearling steers which saw values hold firm at 185¢ while those to restockers improved 5¢ with sales to 199¢/kg. The heavyweight 3 scores to processors ranged from 165¢ to 200¢/kg. Lightweight C2 yearling heifers improved 1¢ in value with most sales around 170¢ while medium weights to feeders sold to 182¢/kg. A large run of heavyweights went to slaughter with the 3 scores making 160¢ to 201¢/kg.

Lightweight grown steers destined to feeders averaged 167¢ while heavyweight 3 scores to slaughter sold to 193¢ with the majority of sales close to 176¢/kg. A good supply of 3 and 4 score bullocks averaged between 170¢ to 175¢/kg. Medium weight C3 grown heifers sold to a top of 178¢ to average close to 165¢/kg. Medium weight D3 cows to processors eased 2¢ in value to 126¢/kg. The heavyweight 3 and 4 scores held firm to 3¢ cheaper with most sales around 136¢ to top at 165¢/kg.

QLD weekly cattle summary

Steady supply

The supply of stock varied from centre to centre, nevertheless across all markets covered by MLA’s NLRS overall numbers remained just a few hundred head short of last week. A combination of dry weather and no sale for next week at Warwick resulted in a small lift in supply, and similar to other centres calves and vealers are starting to show the effects of a diminishing milk supply.

The overall quality of the grown stock was generally good and in the south of the state some local cattle off crop as well as consignments from western districts helped maintain the good standard.

Regardless of the slip in the quality of the young grades of stock restockers feeder operators and the trade maintained the strong support experienced in previous weeks. A full panel of export buyer's were present at markets in the south of the state. However despite the good buyer attendant’s heavy steers and bullocks experienced a mixed trend with milk and 2 tooth grades attracting good demand, while 4 and 6 tooth classes met a subdued market.

Cows continued to dominate the selling pens and values at markets early in the week generally remained firm, however by midweek prices eased in places. The better lines of both medium and heavyweight classes experienced the greatest losses of 4¢ to 6¢/kg. Strong restocker activity against processors on light and medium weight lines resulted in plain condition cows being the least affected and generally remained firm across all markets.

Export lines cheaper

Calves to the trade averaged 175¢, while those returning to the paddock made to 210.2¢ to average 184¢/kg. A large supply of vealers steers were in demand from both restockers and feeder operators with feeder grades mostly around 200¢ and restocker classes 198¢ with the occasional sale to 223.2¢/kg. A large number of vealer heifers also came forward and regardless of the slip in quality values remained firm and even improved in places. Lightweight yearling steers to restockers remained firm at 178¢ and medium weight feeders improved 2¢ to average 184¢ and heavy classes 181¢/kg. A lift in the quality of the medium weight yearling heifers to feed saw average prices lift 4¢ to average 166¢ with sales to 182.2¢/kg. Heavy classes of yearling heifers to the trade met solid competition to average 176¢ with a few pens reaching 188.6¢/kg.

A relatively small number of medium weight grown steers to feed averaged 176¢/kg. Heavy steers to export slaughter mostly sold around 180¢/kg. A fair sample of good heavy bullocks were penned and young grades made to 187.2¢, and 4 and 6 tooth lines sold in the mid 170¢/kg range. Medium weight score 1 cows averaged 106¢ and the 2 scores 116¢/kg. Heavy 3 scores generally sold around 129¢, and good heavy cows made to the occasional 152.6¢/kg.

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