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Weekly Cattle Summary

02 March 2012
Meat & Livestock Australia

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

New South Wales

Rain holds back supply

Cattle yardings at the physical markets reported by MLA’s NLRS fell 6%, with a mixed trend recorded between the regions. Heavy, and at times flooding rain, disrupted southern sales later in the week as up to 100mm of rain fell. Seasonal prospects during autumn look excellent, with graziers state wide having a good fodder base and ample water storages heading into winter. Numbers in the north of the state were generally higher, with producers moving cattle after wet weather prevailed for most of February. Cattle supplies in central NSW were firm to higher, with CTLX and Dubbo providing the most cattle.

Competition increased as numbers contracted in the eastern states, with buyers lifting prices in a bid to secure enough supplies. Processors orders were noticeably stronger, with trade and export cattle prices increasing. The rain will also have a twofold effect – firstly by holding up supplies and secondly by ensuring that restocker demand remains prominent. Feeder prices continued to show a slightly softer trend as demand for grain fed meat remains and suitable cattle are in good numbers.

Export processors were prepared to pay more to secure cow supplies, as the higher demand stemmed the current record prices for global manufacturing meat.

Quality is still well above average, with the majority of young and grown cattle showing the benefits of the wet and mild summer conditions. Yearling drafts are showing good weight for their age, whilst the best trade cattle are crop finished or supplementary fed.

Higher prices

Vealer steers selling to restocking and backgrounding orders mainly ranged from 237¢ to 245¢, and were up to 9¢/kg dearer. Medium vealer heifers returning to the paddock were in smaller numbers and averaged 226¢/kg or $528/head. Vealer heifers to domestic trade orders ranged from 220¢ to 229¢, and prices were 3¢/kg higher. Light yearling steers to restockers sold between 215¢ and 230¢, while the pens to feed were on 210¢/kg. Medium feeder steer prices fell 4¢ -to 203¢, while the C3 heavy pens to feed averaged 195¢/kg. Heavy trade steers topped at 220¢ and were 4¢ higher on 197¢/kg. Light yearling heifers were a shade dearer, selling from 190¢ to 201¢/kg. The better quality pens to slaughter generally sold from 187¢ to 199¢, as prices improved by up to 10¢/kg.

The better covered grown steers topped at 196¢ and made 188¢, while the leaner types were 5¢ dearer on 184¢/kg. Bullocks were strongly supplied as prices topped at 195¢ and averaged around 188¢/kg or $1,202/head. Both lean and well covered cow prices showed a dearer trend, as the medium weight pens made from 135¢ to 147¢/kg. The D3 heavyweights were 3¢ higher on 146¢, as the D4 pens averaged 153¢/kg.

Queensland

Supply dips again

Supply across the physical markets reported by MLA’s NLRS fell 34% week-on-week. This reduction was the result of the rain affecting cattle movement which also meant the Longreach sale had to be cancelled. Only Dalby, Mareeba and Roma Prime were able to offer greater numbers this week. When compared to the corresponding period in 2011 supply was down 39%.

The total February yarding at markets reported by MLA’s NLRS for this year was just under 56,000 head which was down 30% on the same period last year. Most of the reduction year on year was due to the Roma Store market able to only hold two sales this February as a result of the flooding.

After a slow start to the year, all processors operated last week, as cattle slaughter reached the highest level since late November. However when compared to the five year monthly average, February 2012 was slightly less.

Quality continued to be mixed and some of the plainer lines were discounted by all buyers with the light end of the young cattle most affected. The properly finished lines including export cattle were able to sell to improved prices. There was a reduction in the number of young cattle offered, yet they still accounted for 57% of throughput. Vealers were in small runs as most young cattle were yearling steers. Similar to last week, restockers and feeders remain the main purchases of young cattle with just 28% secured by the trade. Slightly less grown steers were offered while cows again represented around half of the grown cattle yarded.

Light cattle cheaper

Around three quarters of the vealer steers offered were medium weights returning to the paddock around 230¢ which was almost 20¢/kg cheaper. The medium weight vealer heifers to restockers suffered a similar fall to average 206¢ as those to the trade gained 10¢ to sell at 212¢/kg. Large numbers of light yearling steers to restockers eased 4¢ to 222¢ as the plainer lines made closer to 189¢/kg. Medium weights returning to the paddock ranged from 208¢ to 218¢ as those to feeders made from 190¢ to 200¢/kg. Some heavy weights to feed made mostly in the early 190¢ range with a small number to the trade averaging 195¢ to be 7¢/kg dearer. The medium weight yearling heifers to slaughter jumped 19¢ to average 201¢ as heavy weights gained 5¢ to 189¢/kg.

Limited numbers of medium weight grown steers were offered with most purchased by feeders. The heavy C3 and C4s to slaughter were 8¢ to 14¢ dearer in ranging from 182¢ to 188¢ after topping at 194.2¢/kg. Bullocks lifted 7¢ to average 189¢/kg. Around half the cows offered were medium weights which gained 6¢ to 8¢, as the D3 pens sold closer to 151¢/kg. Heavy D4 cows topped at 176.2c to average 164¢/kg.

South Australia

Similar numbers

A slightly smaller yarding at the SALE started the week in very mixed quality runs of local and pastoral bred cattle. These generally attracted a dearer trend from the usual trade and export buyers. Feeder and restocker buyers were active as they sourced well bred yearling steers at much dearer levels.

After a hot weekend overall quality slipped at Naracoorte and sold to steady trade and export competition. There was an additional Adelaide wholesale order present and an interstate feedlot also sourcing steers and heifers.

Mt. Gambier’s slightly smaller yarding sold to strong competition from the usual SA and Victorian buyers, with some exceptional prices being paid for lightweight vealer heifers. Plain quality cows were keenly sourced by a Deniliquin (NSW) order and a Victorian processor to put out, as heavy rainfall in many regions could see supplies tighten.

Millicent had a larger yarding for its now fortnightly sale, with the Wattle Range Council holding a meeting in a fortnight to discuss the viability of the yards. Only limited numbers of vealers were penned. They attracting spirited bidding up to 235¢ for the steers, and 258¢/kg for the heifers. Most light and medium weight yearling steers finished with feeder and restocker orders, with the heavy weights to processors being dearer. Yearling heifers were also generally dearer to the trade. Grown steers tended to remain basically unchanged despite the small numbers offered. The cows that featured many 1 and 2 scores sold mainly to restocker activity at dearer levels, with processor purchases also at improved levels.

Prices lift

It was a generally dearer week as smaller numbers and some heavy rainfall sparked some intense bidding at times. Vealer steers to the trade sold from 190¢ to 235¢ to be 3¢ to 9¢/kg dearer. Feeders and restockers purchased B and C muscled light and medium weight steers from 168¢ to 232¢ at prices up to 14¢/kg more. Vealer heifers attracted strong demand between 180¢ and 258¢, to be unchanged to 3¢/kg more with isolated sales much dearer. Yearling steer C3 and B muscled sales were from 165¢ to 213¢, or 6¢ to 20¢/kg dearer. Feeder and restocker orders sourced C2 and C3 steers between 165¢ and 220¢/kg at much dearer levels. Yearling heifer C3 and C4 medium and heavyweight sales ranged from 160¢ to 202¢, to be 1¢ to 14¢/kg dearer.

Grown steers sold generally from 174¢ to 198¢ to be basically unchanged, and mostly 310¢ to 350¢/kg cwt. The 1 and 2 score cows to restocker activity sold from 125¢ to 142¢, with processor purchases of 2 to 6 score medium and heavy beef cows from 110¢ to 162¢, or 275¢ to 310¢/kg cwt. Friesian cows sold from 115¢ to 150¢/kg, also at dearer levels and averaged 275¢/kg cwt.

Victoria

Throughput lifting

Numbers at MLA’s NLRS reported physical markets increased 8% with most of the gains in early week markets. The rain over a wide area of the state has meant that processors are expecting numbers to tighten which aided the start of price increases. Rain was heavy at times, with several districts receiving well above average rainfall. However, rainfall in the Western Districts was not as widespread, with the dry seasonal conditions prevailing.

Quality continues to be mixed with some good quality being penned, but there were also plain condition lines available. There were some excellent quality vealers offered, particularly in Gippsland markets. Given the large variations in our weather conditions over the past couple of weeks, dressing percentages are reportedly slipping, further compounding the dearer prices for processors. Grown cattle yardings were slightly lower and competition picked up, with strong global demand for manufacturing beef translating to the dearer cow prices.

As the week progressed, prices climbed between 3¢ and 12¢/kg, although some sales were noted to be even higher. Receiving the greatest gains were grown cattle as all export processors and some wholesalers were actively seeking supply. Feedlots and restockers matched this strong demand in order to ensure they secured sufficient supply, with plenty of suitable cattle available. Following the good falls of rain, it is expected that restocker demand will continue. This trend has also been evident in store sales held over the past week as producers are eager to secure cattle in order to utilize the exceptional seasonal conditions.

Dearer trend

There was a fair percentage of heavy B muscle vealer steers that made from 212¢ to 249.6¢/kg. Secondary lines made mostly between 175¢ and 225¢/kg. The B muscle vealer heifers mostly made around 220¢ as the C muscled lots ranged from 204¢ to 217¢/kg. Some medium weight yearling steers to restockers made from 181¢ to 196¢ as heavy weights to feed averaged 194¢/kg. There were some supplementary fed yearlings to the trade that made between 220¢ and 235¢/kg. Aided by strong supermarket demand, the best heifers sold from 192¢ to 210¢ with most others from 170¢ to 195¢/kg.

Grown steers and bullocks were 4¢ to 12¢/kg dearer. Heavy steers mostly made around 193¢ after selling to 202.6¢ as the bullocks generally traded in the mid to late 180¢/kg range. Restocker activity on cows was stronger, particularly on dairy cows. Medium weight D1 dairy cows gained 7¢ to average 118¢ as the plainer E1s made closer to 111¢/kg. Heavy dairy cows mostly ranged from 122¢ to 143¢/kg. Medium weight D2 and D3 beef cows were 6¢ to 10¢/ dearer in making from 136¢ to 142¢/kg. The heavy D4 cows lifted 6¢ after making to 178¢ to average 152¢/kg. The carcass weight price average was estimated to be 292¢/kg.

Western Australia

Reasonable numbers continue

Warm and predominately fine conditions were recorded in the southern corner of WA. There was some isolated thunderstorm activity, while there were light rainfall bands seen across the south coast and south eastern regions. Forecasts have predicted another week of warm to hot and generally hot weather with temperatures again tipped to rise to very hot levels mid-week. Feed levels remain reasonable but there was been an increase in supplementary feeding in many areas as would be expected in southern WA at this time of year. Early calving continues in the south and is on the increase. Bull sales in the south are now nearing the end for this year and sales thus far have been encouraging with good averages and clearances having been seen. Conditions in the north of the state remain reasonable.

Saleyard numbers remained reasonable this week with the Great Southern sale at Mt Barker returning to a one day sales format with last week seeing the end of the official vealer selling season. Muchea’s yarding continued to have solid supplies of pastoral cattle, while the southwest and Mt Barker yardings were also reasonable for this time of year. Heavy weight steers and heifers continued to be seen in only limited supply, as were trade weight yearlings. Vealer supplies although lower were also fair, while the supplies of cows dipped slightly this week. Trade competition remains solid, while restocker and feeder demand were solid and a feature at all markets.

Vealer demand rises

Vealer quality and weight remain fair but very mixed as we see the end of the sell off of last year’s calves. The end of the two-day sale saw an increase in both feeder and restocker demand throughout all the classes, with all recording higher price levels in favour of the vendor. This week also saw a large line of well bred heifers sold in the Great Southern market. All of these were purchased for breeding by restockers at prices between 244¢ to 268¢/kg. The quality of trade weight yearling steers and heifers remained mixed on the tight supplies available. Local trade and retailer activity and demand remained strong in both heifer and steer classes with grass finished sales firm to slightly dearer comparative to the previous week.

The tight supplies of heavy weight steers, bullocks and mature heifers followed a similar trend as their trade weight counterparts with tight supplies remaining in place. The cow market eased in early weekly sales, but this trend was reversed by the end of the week, where trade demand increases to similar levels seen during last week. Heavy weight bulls recorded a slightly stronger demand this week with increases of up to 8¢/kg.

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