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Weekly Cattle Summary

16 September 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).

Western Australia weekly cattle summary

Chance of rain positive

After almost two weeks of fine and dry weather conditions, which were accompanied by warming temperatures, the southern parts of the state received several weak fronts towards the end of the week. Rainfall of any consequence was highest in the southwest and costal areas with eastern, central and northern areas receiving only light falls.

Forecasts have indicated that there will be continued shower activity across the weekend and into the early parts of next week, but recordings are not expected to be high. The fine and warmer conditions of the past fortnight have dried the country out and this will have a negative impact on crop and pasture yields if further reasonable moist is not received in the short term.

Conditions in the north of the sates remained fine and dry also with temperatures also on the rise and ultimately in the short term this will affect mustering activity and the subsequent numbers of pastoral cattle being sent to the south for sale and slaughter.

Physical market numbers were marginally larger primarily due to an increase in Muchea's numbers. The southwest sale remained the smallest of the weekly fixtures, while Mt Barker's numbers were lower and only moderate for this time of year. Muchea's yarding was again dominated by pastoral cattle with good supplies of steers, heifers, cows and bulls. Locally bred cattle numbers on the other hand were again tight with only limited numbers of heavy and trade weight steers and heifers recorded, irrespective of area they were sourced from.

Trade demand improves

The supplies of new season vealers remained very limited, unlike the same period last year where drought conditions in the pastoral areas and very dry conditions in the south forced producers to sell off earlier at lighter weights. Those offered remained of lightweight this past week and demand remains very strong from both the trade and restocker sectors with little or no change seen in prices. There were fewer supplies of both grass and supplementary fed trade weight yearlings.

Quality of both remained mixed. Prime grades enjoyed buoyant local trade and retailer demand with firm values recorded on both sexes. The plainer condition drafts realised a firm and solid competition from the restocker and feeder sectors. Store yearling quality and weight were also very mixed. Although reasonable there was a drop off in demand from the restocker and feeder sectors with most grades of both steers and heifers recording lower price levels.

Heavy grown cattle realised weaker demand from the processing sector at the beginning of the week, which resulted in cheaper price levels. This had however turned around by Mt Barker which saw considerably dearer rates of up to 11¢/kg recorded.

Queensland weekly cattle summary

Mixed quality

The quality of cattle penned was mixed at physical markets covered by MLA's NLRS. Numbers of younger light cattle were in good supply, particularly light weight vealer steers. Meanwhile, the supply of suitable slaughter cattle was restricted and as a result most of these categories improved in price as demand from processors outweighed supply of cattle. Overall, total yarding numbers at physical markets covered by MLA's NLRS increased five per cent.

The largest jump in yarding numbers was at Longreach where quality was fair to good. Grown steers and cows accounted for around half of Longreach's yarding, while calves and yearling steers were also well supplied. Roma's store sale yarding numbers rose significantly with buoyant prices appearing to attract the extra supply. At Dalby numbers also increased with the main increase in the light young cattle section.

Steers and heifers to the domestic trade market were eagerly sort by processors and both categories sold to a dearer trend. Prices of light vealers reflected the quality offered with restocker buyers being more selective on the larger offering of plainer sorts of light weight steers. Alternatively, well bred light weight heifers attracted plenty of competition from restocker and feedlot buyers and improved in value.

The extra demand from southern processors increased competition for export grades, while a good sample of medium weight cows also realised increased prices, but heavy four score cows lost ground. Store condition feeder steers rose and yearling heifers suitable to feed also leap in value.

Strong demand

Mainly plainer lines of calves were penned which averaged around 218¢, to be 8¢/kg dearer. Vealer steers returned to the paddock at 6¢/kg cheaper with most around 242¢/kg, while those to processors sold to 232¢ and averaged 211¢ which was 12¢/kg dearer. Good quality vealer heifers to slaughter made to 230¢ and averaged 212¢/kg.

Light yearling steers to restockers lost 5¢ to average 228¢/kg, while D-muscled lines made closer to 181¢/kg. Feedlot buyers were most active on medium weight yearling steers with prices reaching 243¢ and averaging 211¢/kg to be slightly dearer. Feeder heavy yearling steers generally sold around 185¢/kg. Domestic trade steers averaged 196c, while heifers average 199c/kg.

Feedlot and restocker buyer competition also boasted prices for light yearling heifers with those to feeders selling to 229¢ with most closer to 215¢, while those to restockers topped at 240¢ and averaged 223¢/kg. Medium weight yearling heifers to feed reached 228¢ and averaged 211c¢ which was 12¢/kg dearer. Most of the grown steers averaged between 187¢ and 189¢/kg. Medium weight 3 score cows averaged 143¢/kg, while well finished four score cows reached 173¢ and most sold closer to 159¢/kg.

New South Wales weekly cattle summary

Steady supply

Cattle supply at markets reported by MLA's NLRS remained unchanged on last week despite some variations between the individual markets. Some markets were affected by rain last week, particularly Gunnedah which dropped around 30 per cent. Forbes however returned to more normal levels after a unseasonal sized yarding last week. When compared to this time last year, supply is up just three per cent.

There has been no marked improvement to quality with all markets continuing to offer numbers of well finished lines which are mixed in with the plainer lines more suited to restockers or feeders. This is expected to change in the coming weeks as the warmer weather is allowing pasture growth and keeping restocker activity high. There were some good lines of naught and two tooth grown steers which attracted solid demand with sales topping over 200¢/kg at many centres.

Very few calves were offered, however young cattle have accounted for the vast majority of cattle offered in particular light and medium weight yearlings. Just over 60 per cent of the young cattle either returned to the paddock or were secured by feeders. Grown cattle, mostly grown steers and cows, represented around 33 per cent of the state throughput.

Prices have been firm to dearer with all buyers present and looking to make purchases, although at Tamworth not all exporters made purchases.

OTH rates were firm from the majority of contributors after the solid gains recorded last week. Only one contributor increased their rates. As has been the case at physical markets, the strong OTH rates have been due to a tight supply of finished cattle.

Dearer trend

Light vealer steers to restockers averaged 258¢ as the medium weight sold closer to 238¢/kg. Light and medium weight vealer heifers to the trade ranged mostly from 234¢ to 237¢ with sales to 247.2¢/kg. The large number of light yearling steers purchased by restockers gained five cents to sell around 237¢/kg. Medium weight C3s to the trade averaged 225¢ to be three cents dearer while those medium weights to feeders gained five cents to sell around 215¢/kg.

Heavy steers to slaughter went against the trend and slipped 7¢ to 203¢/kg. Light yearling heifers returning to the paddock averaged 218¢ which was 6¢ dearer as the medium weights to the trade gained 7¢ to sell closer to 215¢/kg.¢9

Medium weight grown steers to feed and slaughter both improved slightly to average 197¢ and 187¢/kg respectively. Most of the heavy steers were leaner three scores which sold around 195¢ as the better covered four scores averaged 199¢ after selling to 208.2¢/kg. Most of the bullocks made from 189¢ to 194¢/kg. Most of the medium weight D2 and D3 cows made from 145¢ to 150¢/kg. Good heavy cows made to 174¢ as the D4s averaged unchanged at 160¢/kg.

Victoria weekly cattle summary

Feeders and restockers active

An increase in supply of around 13 per cent was realised at the physical markets reported by MLA's NLRS. When this is coupled with a bigger variation in quality, it resulted in quite a variance in prices.

Week on week the Eastern Young Cattle Indicator (EYCI) was down 2.00¢/kg, to be 401.75¢/kg at the completion of Thursdays markets. The better quality young cattle created strong competition amongst the regular local butchers and wholesalers. This saw the top prices of the previous week returned for high yielding vealers and supplementary fed yearlings. As there were few of these cattle available, prices for lighter weight yearlings equalled those of vealers on some occasions as buyers struggled to fill orders.

Across all markets though overall quality was not as good as recent weeks which affected averages to be 2¢ to 6¢/kg cheaper. With recent store cattle sale prices being unchanged to even dearer, feedlots and restockers were evident in their competition purchasing a larger share of the young cattle offered.

Strong demand was not only reserved for young cattle, as grown steers, prime bullocks and cows all sold at relatively unchanged levels. There were more prime C muscle bullocks yarded and demand was good, outpacing supplies at times. Considering the US 90CL grinding beef prices was 369¢/kg FAS averaged over the month of August, saleyard prices estimated to be 305¢/kg leaves little room for profits after slaughter and cartage cost are added. The A$ during the week though was heading in a more favourable direction for exporters.

Quality affects price

The best quality vealers made to 279¢ with most pens making over 245¢/kg. However, the quality was generally plainer for vealers they averaged around 216¢/kg. Supplementary fed yearlings reached 272¢, and depending on weight most made between 200¢ and 250¢/kg.

Once again, the pens lacking quality affected prices for the yearlings, but most steers made from 188¢ to 235¢, and similar heifers ranged from 178¢ to 215¢/kg. Because of the increased competition from restockers the better quality steers and heifers returning to the paddock ranged from 195¢ and 225¢, while the plainer lines sold from 150¢ to 210¢/kg.

Almost 25 per cent of the cattle penned were grown steers and bullocks. Grown steers made to 202¢ and prime C muscle bullocks sold from 175¢ to 198¢/kg. Cow prices were particularly strong, with the lean one and two score cows in demand.

Prices however for beef cows varied greatly, according to quality and weight. Some very heavy cows made 171¢ with the top price being 175¢/kg. Sales of three and four score cows were between 142¢ and 168¢/kg. All classes of lean one score cows sold very well with most making between 115¢ and 145¢/kg.

South Australia weekly cattle summary

Increased yardings

Numbers increased with SA LE's having a larger yarding, while the South East numbers have risen again at both Naracoorte and Mt Gambier. Millicent for its fortnightly sale was slightly reduced. The increased numbers could be due to producers taking advantage of the good prices being paid at present in the South East due to a lack of cattle being yarded over the border.

There were good quality runs of young cattle and grown steers that made up the bulk of the yarding at the SA LE, with the balance being mixed quality and selling to fluctuating competition from the usual trade and processor buyers. Feeder and restocker orders were also very active at generally dearer levels, while trade purchases tended to vary. Grown steers and heifers were dearer, with the small yarding of cows being unchanged to slightly dearer.

The South East's increased numbers featured some excellent quality Droughtmaster heifers at Naracoorte that had been finished in the South East.

Mt. Gambier had a magnificent yarding of grown steers and heavy bullocks, while the rest of these yardings attracted solid bidding even though many of the young and old cattle are needing warmer weather to finish properly. Feeder and restocker orders were also quite active as they sourced principally Angus steers and some heifers.

Fluctuating trends

There were fluctuating trends that was probably due to the varying quality and the increased numbers available. Vealer steers to the trade sold from 205¢ to 270¢ that left some sales 11¢ to 26¢ dearer, and others 5¢ to 6¢/kg cheaper. Feeders and restockers sourced C muscled mainly lightweight Angus steers from 203¢ to 225¢ or unchanged to 26¢/kg dearer.

Vealer heifers to the trade sold between 185¢ and 267¢, with a couple of lightweights finishing at 292c/kg after some drawn out bidding. This tended to leave isolated sales 4¢ dearer and the balance generally 6¢ to 16¢/kg less. Yearling steers with many in two score condition sold from 186¢ to 220¢, with B muscled supplementary feds to 263¢ to be generally 3¢ to 9¢/kg cheaper overall.

Feeders purchased C2 medium and heavyweights from 161¢ to 221¢/kg. Yearling heifer C3 and C4 sales were mainly between 160¢ and 231¢, or 1¢ to 7¢/kg less.

Grown steers in good quality runs sold from 174¢ to 201¢, to be unchanged to 3¢ cheaper and generally 315¢ to 350¢/kg cwt. The D3 to C6 medium and heavy beef cows sold from 130¢ to 170¢ to be basically unchanged, or 275¢ to 320¢/kg cwt.

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