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Weekly Cattle Summary

27 April 2012
Meat & Livestock 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

Holiday impacts numbers

The long dry spell experienced for the past few months in southern WA continues. Forecasts have however predicted some light falls of rain across the weekend period. Conditions in the north have begun to moderate temperature wise and mustering activity is on the rise. In southern regions calving activity continues to increase with supplementary feeding activity very high as pasture levels are now very low.

Despite not interfering with the weekly sales roster the holiday mid week did affect physical cattle numbers with Mt Barker’s total in the Great Southern only half of what was seen the previous week. Muchea’s live weight yarding was solid and similar to the previous week, while calf numbers were considerably larger due to solid supplies sourced from pastoral regions. The southwest sale remained similar and still the smallest of the three weekly fixtures. Agents report that they expect saleyard numbers to remain at solid levels in the south as long as weather conditions remain dry, as this continues to impact on feed and water levels.

There were again solid supplies of pastoral and ex-pastoral cattle seen this week. Local heavy weight steer and heifer numbers remained moderate with the supplies of prime trade weight yearlings also tight. Young store grades remained reasonable as were cow numbers. Trade competition remained similar to the previous week, while processors continue to report difficult trading conditions with demand remaining conservative on both export and domestic levels. Feeder activity remained similar also with a conservative and selective restocker interest again seen throughout the classes.

Cow market remains similar

Vealer supplies outside of calf classes remained limited and predominately of lightweight. Demand for these continued to be generally confined to the restocker sector, with little or no change recorded in prices. The supplies of both grass and grain assisted trade weight yearlings was again minimal. Limited supplies of grain assisted yearlings are representative of the limited numbers that were speculatively fed this year.

Demand from the local processing sector remained conservative with the majority of price levels similar to the lower prices recorded the previous week. Grass finished drafts were also relatively similar in price to the previous week also. Heavy weight steer and bullock prices remained firm to the processing sector in both local and pastoral classes. This was also the case in the very limited numbers of heavy weight mature heifer sales.

Cow quality and weight were both fair. Demand from the processing sector started the week at slightly lower levels, but this increased as the week progressed with averages again remaining at similar values throughout the classes. This was also the case in heavy weight bull sales, while lightweight and vealer bulls suitable for live export enjoyed solid demand.

South Australia

Welcome rain

South East cattle producers would have been pleased with the rain over the last weekend after a very dry summer and autumn that has put pressure on maintaining stock condition without any supplementary feeding.

Overall quality has been very mixed in recent South East markets and has been a factor to prices retreating over the past fortnight as most operating SA and Victorian buyers look further afield to source prime cattle. Only Millicent held a market in the south east this week due to the construction of Naracoorte’s new cattle roof and Mt. Gambier not holding a sale due to ANZAC day. This could lead to more cattle being sourced outside this region in an effort to keep works operating despite another short kill week.

The SA LE though, featured a larger and mixed quality run featuring mainly young cattle and cows that met with fluctuating demand from the usual trade and export buyers, with an additional Victorian order present. Feeder and restocker orders were also active on increased numbers at lower levels on the much improved prices paid at the previous sale. Increased numbers of pastoral bred young cattle, grown and manufacturing steers and cows were also available.

Millicent’s smaller yarding contained very mixed quality lines of mainly young cattle and cows that sold to steady competition from most of the usual SA and Victorian trade and export buyers. Feeder and restocker orders were also very active on mainly medium and heavy yearling steers at mainly lower levels.

Prices retreat

The varying quality, a short kill week and a lack of buying orders tended to witness prices retreating. Vealer steers in limited numbers to the trade sold from 188¢ to 210¢ at prices generally 8¢/kg less. Feeder and restocker purchases of C2 steers were from 175¢ to 202¢/kg, also at lower levels. Limited sales of vealer heifers were from 172¢ to 205¢, with feeders and restockers sourcing C and D muscled heifers between 144¢ and 160¢/kg. Yearling steers mostly ranged from 160¢ to 218¢ to be averaging around 10¢/kg cheaper. Large numbers to feeder orders sold from 160¢ to 190¢ at prices 5¢ to 15¢/kg less. Yearling heifers were between 159¢ and 195¢, and 11¢ to 14¢/kg cheaper.

The few grown heifers penned sold from 100¢ to 160¢/kg. Pastoral bred grown and manufacturing steers sold from 100¢ to 172¢/kg. The medium and heavy beef cows sold generally from 105¢ to 140¢ to be 8¢ to 13¢ cheaper, and mainly 245¢ to 285¢/kg cwt. Restockers secured light and medium weight 1 and 2 beef cows from 117¢ to 132¢, with the 1 scores 15¢ dearer and the 2 scores 9¢/kg cheaper.

Victoria

Reduced yardings

The ANZAC day public holiday created another disrupted trading week, hindering yardings as Leongatha and Warrnambool sales were postponed. The lower prices of recent weeks have also discouraged producers from selling their stock and contributed to a marked reduction in supply. Overall there were 66% fewer cattle yarded across the MLA’s NLRS reported physical markets with all centres except Ballarat reporting reductions. Pakenham and Wodonga accounted for most of the cattle supply.

While supply reduced across all classes, the grown steer and heifers experienced the greatest decline. There was a large proportion cows penned with many heavy weights available. Quality has remained similar although there are becoming more plainer cattle yarded as a result of colder conditions and reduced pasture growth. The best quality lots were observed in the grown steer and vealer sections. The yearling quality was varied, and few supplementary fed consignments were offered. The cow offering was reduced in quality with the majority being lightly muscled and carrying little condition.

Demand from buyers has dropped off greatly as not even the reduced numbers could prevent prices from falling again. Solid supplies going direct to works combined with weakened retail demand caused some trade and supermarket buyers to be absent, while those that were present were evidently more selective in their purchases. Restocker and feeder activity was encouraged by the lower prices; however competition was lacking the necessary vigour to halt price falls. The most affected categories were yearling steers which lost 31¢ and cows which slid 23¢/kg.

Prices continue to slip

Medium C2 vealer steers to restockers were 4¢ cheaper to average 212¢ with sales to 220¢/kg. The medium C3 steers dropped 18¢ to sell around 211¢ after selling to 236¢/kg. The heavy C3 vealer steers eased only slightly to average 216¢/kg. The medium vealer heifers were 13¢ lower with most making from 170¢ and 206¢ to average 193¢/kg. The heavy C3 heifers sold around 207¢/kg. Light C2 yearling steers slipped 9¢ to 197¢/kg. Heavy C2 steers to restockers were down 2¢ to 177¢ while the C3’s to the trade made closer to 192¢/kg. Light D2 yearling heifers to restockers were 8¢ cheaper at 159¢/kg. The medium D3’s also reduced 8¢ to average 159¢/kg. The heavy D3’s sold around 164¢ to be 12¢/.kg lower.

Heavy grown C3 steers were 4¢ cheaper at 182¢ while C4 bullocks were also down 4¢ to 176¢/kg. Heavy grown heifers lost 17¢ to average 161¢/kg. The Medium D3 cows were 10¢ cheaper at 136¢/kg. The heavy D3s averaged136¢ which was also down by 10¢/kg. The D1 dairy cows fell 19¢ to 113¢/kg. Light C2 bulls made around 159¢ while the heavy weights sold closer to 149¢ to both be 4¢/kg cheaper.

Queensland

Quality slipping

After a near record yarding last week, supply at MLA’s NLRS reported markets fell 43%. Most of the operating centres offered reduced throughput with the only exceptions being Mareeba and Warwick. Assisting the decline was the ANZAC day public holiday which meant Dalby was moved to Friday, while Longreach and Silverdale did not operate. The combined throughput of Roma Store and Dalby accounted for just over 60% of the states yarding. When compared to the corresponding week last year numbers were up 43%.

Quality was fair with the top end cattle evident but not in the numbers of recent weeks. The cooler weather has started to makes its presence felt, particularly on the young cattle. The Roma Store sale included greater numbers of plainer western cattle and reduced supply of finished local cattle and this impacted on prices. The Friday Dalby sale though contained some large consignments from the far western corner of the state. Most of the cattle offered were yearlings and cows which when combined represented close to 70% of the states yarding. Grown steers were in fair numbers while calves and vealers were in limited numbers.

The regular field of buyers were present along with a large contingent of onlookers. Not all export processors though were active. The move to Friday had little impact on buyer support at Dalby with a good panel of buyers operating including most major processors.

Prices were mixed however in some cases were able to regain recent losses. Young cattle were firm to 10¢/kg cheaper, while export cattle were more varied firm to a few cents dearer through to 10¢/kg cheaper.

Mixed prices

Most of the calves purchased by restockers were 5¢ cheaper at 210¢ after making to 232.2¢/kg. Vealer steers also returning to the paddock eased 1¢ to average 217¢/kg. Vealer heifers to the trade fell 2¢ to 191¢/kg. Light and medium weight yearling steers to restockers ranged mostly from 192¢ to 207¢ as the medium weights to feeders sold from 191¢ to 196¢/kg. Heavy weights to feed lost 4¢ to average 183¢/kg. The better end of the light yearling heifers to feed made around 188¢ as the plainer lines averaged 174¢/kg. Restockers were active on lightweights paying from 178¢ to 186¢/kg.

Most of the medium grown steers were secured by feeders from 164¢ to 168¢/kg. Heavy C3 steers eased 3¢ to 159¢, as the C4s reached 183.6¢ to average 170¢ which was 2¢/kg dearer. Bullocks made to 186.6c with most around 167¢/kg. Very few light cows were offered with restockers securing around half. There was also good enquiry for medium weights by restockers as well which averaged 121¢/kg. Medium weight 3 and 4 score cows to slaughter were firm to 5¢ cheaper with most sales from 126¢ to 136¢/kg. Heavy D4 cows topped at 156.2c with most sales close to week ago levels at 142¢/kg.

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