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Weekly Cattle Summary

29 July 2011
Meat & Livestock Australia

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

QLD weekly cattle summary

Numbers lift

Cattle numbers at physical markets covered by MLA's NLRS experienced a lift of 24 per cent following the lower supply last week. Young cattle dominated the selling pens in southern markets, and similar to the previous weeks the cold weather was reflected in the quality particularly the calf and veal portion. The standard of the heavy steers and bullocks was generally fair to good, and while some very good cows was penned, there was a larger supply of cows in the one and two score ranges.

Buyer attendance at most markets was generally good and also included all major export processors, however at times not all export buyers were operating. Southern processors continued to show solid demand for vealer heifers and average prices improved by four cents/kg, and in places larger improvements was achieved as quality tended to taper off.

The extra processor demand experienced on the lightweight classes also forced restocker buyers to increase the buying rates and lightweight yearling steers and heifers experienced a dearer market. Feeder classes in all weight ranges generally met very solid demand with only small adjustments due to the quality penned. Yearling grades suited to the local meat trade were scarce and local butchers battled to secure adequate supplies and values lifted accordingly.

Values for heavy steers and bullocks struggled to maintain the rates of the previous week, and across all markets for the week prices varied from firm to one cent to three cents/kg cheaper. However cows went against this trend especially those in the lower fat score ranges, with stronger demand from processors for lean grinding beef lifting values by up to 10 cents/kg at some centres. Good heavy cows generally sold to firm demand.

Vealers dearer

Calves to restockers made to 230.2 cents to average 217 cents and a fairly large sample sold to slaughter at 209 cents with sales to 234.2 cents/kg. Vealer steers generally sold around 205 cents and restockers lines up to 229.2 cents, while butchers at Warwick paid to 246.2 cents/kg.

A fairly good supply of vealer heifers to slaughter averaged four cents to five cents dearer at just under 204 cents, with the occasional heavy grade reaching 246.2 cents/kg.

A large selection of lightweight yearling steers returned to the paddock at 210 cents with sales to 232.2 cents/kg. Medium weight yearling steers to feed sold in the late 180 cents to the early 190 cents/kg range while heavyweights averaged 178 cents/kg. A small selection of medium weight trade lines made to 222.2 cents/kg. Lightweight yearling heifers to restockers were well supplied and made to 203.2 cents to average 194 cents/kg. Medium weight trade descriptions averaged 10 cents/kg better at 193 cents with a few to 217.6 cents/kg.

Heavy steers to export slaughter averaged 172 cents, with some to the wholesale meat trade at 184.2 cents/kg. Bullocks made to 177.2 cents in pen lots with most three cents cheaper at 169 cents/kg. Medium weight one and two score cows averaged 112 cents and 119 cents respectively, and three scores generally sold around 132 cents/kg. A pen of good heavy cows made the occasional 163.2 cents with most at 146 cents/kg.

NSW weekly cattle summary

Cattle supply slips again

Cattle yardings across markets reported by MLA's NLRS were four per cent higher, despite some mixed supply trends. Numbers remain tight for this time of year, with supply around 13 per cent lower year-on-year. Dubbo was once again the largest yarding which was followed closely by Wagga. With no significant rain recorded in some western regions recently crops and pastures have begun to dry out. With this being the case it has been no surprise that cattle throughput may beginning to lift in certain areas. Numbers were up by 30 per cent at Cassino as more young and grown cattle came forward.

A highlight of the week was the increased presence of yearling cattle in northern markets that had been finished on winter pastures or grazing oats. This suggests that the producers have had success in establishing good pastures in the early part of 2011, which has now transpired into yearling cattle hitting the market in a timely fashion.

Of these drafts, many were heavyweight that went straight to slaughter, while the odd pen was brought by feeders. Additionally, there were a good amount of supplementary fed drafts coming forward from all districts. Secondary lines of young cattle were also widespread - as always the case in the colder months.

Buying activity was reported as normal in all markets, with the usual processors sourcing cattle despite some still choosing to work at a reduced capacity. Feeder demand remains hesitant given the developments in some Asian export markets, however cattle that fit domestic specifications have sold well recently.

Restockers market strong

Restockers and backgrounders remain a consistent driving force in the young cattle market. Light vealer steers to restock topped at 255 cents and averaged 220 cents, while the heifer portion sold at 201 cents/kg. A high amount of light yearling cattle suited to restockers are in the market, with producers happy to supply store cattle while the market is strong. Light yearling steers returning to the paddock were two cents dearer on 215 cents, while the portion to feed settled on 209 cents/kg. Light heifers to restocker orders gained five cents to 187 cents, after sales reached 215 cents/kg. Medium yearling steers to feed were unchanged on 201 cents, while the heavy C3 drafts to the trade mainly sold at 192 cents/kg. Heavy yearling heifers with good fat cover topped at 249 cents and mostly made 187 cents/kg.

Light grown steers to feeders gained six cents overall, as most pens sold at 178 cents/kg. The medium weight C3 lines to process topped at 188.6 cents and averaged 176 cents/kg. Heavy steers were in solid numbers and sold to equally strong demand, with prices steady on 178 cents/kg or A$1,104/head. Bullocks topped at 185 cents and prices finished on 177 cents/kg. Cow prices were firm to dearer, as medium weights sold from 129 cents to 138 cents/kg. The heavy D4 section topped at 156 and settled closer to 148 cents/kg.

VIC weekly cattle summary

Vealer supply tight

Price trends for young cattle sold in Victoria belie the EYCI figures this week with young cattle selling at firm to much dearer rates, despite the EYCI falling 9.50 cents/kg cwt. While most of the higher prices were seen for medium to lightweight vealers, most other yearlings were firm to six cents/kg dearer. Overall, supply increased, but a lot of this was due to more cows and other grown cattle being sold.

The very wet conditions seen over most of Gippsland aided a larger penning of cows at Leongatha, but markets in the eastern end of Gippsland were smaller as transport was difficult due to flooding. While local processors and butchers were very keen for vealers with numbers reduced, at Bairnsdale, two processors competed strongly for a meagre supply lifting prices by up to 20 cents/kg. However, similar price increases were seen elsewhere from Victorian processors suppling northern wholesale markets.

The supply of grown steers and bullocks was similar, although some markets were larger, and others smaller. Price averages were unchanged to three cents/kg dearer across all markets recorded by the NLRS. The supply of cows was marginally higher at 2,400 head as prices averaged two cents to six cents/kg higher. Given that the value of the A$ has risen this week, increased cow prices were not expected.

One export processor that hasn't been sourcing cows of late, re-entered that market and aided stronger demand. The carcass weight price average was one cent/k lower week on week, estimated to be 287 cents/kg cwt. However, a lot more poor quality cows were sold.

Young cattle prices strong

The selection of vealers at Bairnsdale was small, but the quality was very good to excellent. The smaller numbers coupled with stronger demand and this market reached the state's top price of 275 cents/kg. As processors sought out most of the vealers and yearlings, feedlot purchases were less and they purchased mostly plainer quality. This saw their purchases average lower buying mostly from 175 cents to 210 cents/kg.

Demand was also strong for supplementary fed yearlings with a pen of heifers making to 260 cents/kg at Pakenham. These cattle were of exceptional quality and most other fed yearlings made from 210 cents to 245 cents/kg across several sales. There were some very good quality drafts of grass finished yearlings that sold between 190 cents and 220 cents, with a run of slightly plainer quality from 175 cents to 195 cents/kg.

The small number of prime C muscle bullocks made mostly from 178 cents to 190 cents, and averaged 181.5 cents/kg. All cows sold well, which saw better quality beef cows make from 145 cents to 174 cents, and larger frame dairy cows 126 cents to 153 cents/kg. Cow demand was solid, with some strong restocker activity recorded which meant the poorer quality and light weight cows made from 70 cents to 135 cents/kg.

SA weekly cattle summary

Smaller numbers

Numbers retreated by at the SA LE in generally poor quality runs, while Naracoorte's similar numbered quite good quality yarding tended to sell at dearer levels. Mt. Gambier had mixed quality runs, with Millicent proposing to have another sale next week.

The SA LE's yarding sold to erratic competition provided by the usual trade and processor buyers, with feeder and restocker orders restrained even though large drafts of pastoral bred cattle attracted solid demand. Vealer numbers were limited and sold to local butchers and wholesale demand. Yearling steers and heifers made up as large percentage of the yarding with prime quality steers selling to the trade cheaper and the heifer portion also losing ground. However, most cows attracted a mainly dearer trend.

Naracoorte's yarding sold to mainly Victorian trade and processor competition, with limited input for steers and heifers to feed on by a major SA processor. Feeder and restocker orders were also quite active as they sourced a wide range of weights and quality of vealer and yearling steers and heifers, together with light and some medium weight bulls. It would be fair to say that apart from isolated sales most categories tended to recoup much of the previous week's lower prices.

Mt. Gambier's small yarding may witness numbers increase next week as a major South East processor starts to source cattle again after their annual maintenance break. The solid demand seen at Naracoorte continued at Mt. Gambier as most categories attracted improved prices despite the varying quality.

Improved prices

It was a week of generally improved prices despite a mainly weaker trend at the SALE. Vealer steers to the trade sold from 205 cents to 271 cents to be generally one cent to 10 cents/kg dearer.

Feeder and restocker orders sourced mainly lightweight C2 steers from 205 cents to 229 cents at prices up to 14 cents/kg higher. Vealer heifers to the trade sold from 185 cents to 254 cents to be unchanged to five cents/kg dearer.

Feeders sourced C2 lightweights from 205 cents to 218 cents or four cents/kg more. Yearling steer C2 and C3 medium and heavyweights to the trade sold between 185 cents and 220 cents, with the medium weights unchanged and the heavy steers nine cents/kg lower. The C2 medium and heavyweights to feeder activity sold from 180 cents to 225 cents/kg at dearer levels. Yearling heifer C3 and C4 sales were from 170 cents to 220 cents or three cents to six cents/kg dearer.

Grown steers in small runs sold mainly from 175 cents to 197 cents to be averaging 20 cents dearer, or around 340 cents/kg cwt. Grown heifers also in small lines sold from 143 cents to 174 cents to be seven cents to 26 cents/kg higher. Medium and heavy D3 to C6 beef cows sold from 129 cents to 157 cents at prices unchanged to five cents dearer and generally 255 cents to 300 cents/kg cwt.

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