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MLA: Weekly Cattle Summary

06 September 2013
Meat & Livestock Australia

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

Western Australia

Southern season continues to improve

There was further improvement over the past seven days in seasonal conditions throughout much of the southern agricultural districts of WA, with further rainfall recorded across a wide area. This, coupled with moderate temperature levels and little or no frosts, has allowed many areas to see strong pasture and crop growth and also aided some areas in water storage levels. Forecasts have predicted that the southern regions should enjoy at least an average spring, which would see strong pasture levels going into the dry months. The northern pastoral regions remain reasonable with live export and mustering activity solid in these areas. There continues to be strong supplies of pastoral cattle from the pastoral regions to southern processing works.

Saleyard numbers remain solid

Physical saleyard numbers remain moderate for this time of year, with Muchea remaining the largest of the three weekly sales. Muchea’s numbers remained similar, as were the southwest supplies, with Mt Barker seeing larger volumes. Muchea’s yarding was again dominated by pastoral cattle, but these remain lower than would normally be expected at this time of year. The supplies of prime local trade weight yearling cattle remained tight, as were heavy weight steer and heifer supplies, with cow volumes similar, while young local store grades were reasonable.

Firm demand

Local trade and retail demand for grass finished yearling trade weights remained similar to what has been seen in recent months, with moderate increases in price. Demand from both restockers and feeders increased in store classes this week, with a general improvement in quality and weight in locally sourced consignments. Heavy weight steers and heifers were predominately sourced from pastoral regions and these enjoyed slightly higher prices from the trade.

Queensland

Supply eases

Supply at most physical markets covered by MLA’s NLRS generally declined, however, the dry conditions continued to maintain numbers at a high levels at Dalby. The rapid deterioration in feed and water supplies across a large area of the state continues to force large numbers of light weight poor condition young cattle onto the market. Selling centres in the eastern corner of the state reported increased supplies of heavy grown steers and bullocks off crop. Most of the cows penned were in the 3 and 4 score range, along with a relatively shorter supply of light weight poor condition lines. A fair panel of buyers were present at most markets and included most of the major export processors and feedlot operators. Restocker buyer attendance varied with more buyers at the Roma store sale, while a limited number were present at markets in the eastern corner of the state.

Varying prices

There was a wide variation in the price of young light weight cattle, with only well bred lines receiving fair demand, while poorer quality lines continued to meet a very subdued market. A large sample of calves returned to the paddock at 154¢, with sales to 186.2¢ and D muscle classes averaged 123¢/kg. Vealer heifers to local and southern processors averaged 156¢, while a very small selection to butchers averaged 180¢ and sold to an isolated 206.2¢/kg. Light weight yearling steers to restockers were well supplied and averaged 172¢ and made to 192¢, while poorer quality lines averaged 144¢/kg. Medium and heavy weight yearling steers to feed generally sold in the 160¢ range, with some heavy weights to 172.2¢/kg. The best of the light weight yearling heifers to the trade, feed and restockers sold close to 140¢, with poorer quality lines from 120¢ to 130¢/kg.

A good sample of heavy grown steers remained firm at 174¢, with sales to 186¢/kg. The good supply of bullocks also remained firm at 176¢, with sales to 187.2¢/kg. Medium weight plain cows averaged 8¢ less at 83¢/kg. Medium weight 2 scores averaged 92¢/kg. Good heavy cows met very solid demand and made to 145.2¢ to average 134¢/kg.

South Australia

Fewer cattle

The two major South Australian cattle markets reported on by MLA’s NLRS both offered 17% fewer cattle. This together, with Millicent being absent from the market, reduced overall yarding numbers by 24%.

Mixed quality

Mixed quality was mainly yarded this week, although there was an overall good quality penning at Naracoorte. The higher number of plain to mostly average quality young cattle enabled lot feeders and restockers to purchase more supplies, especially of light weight steers. This caused price rises, particularly at Mount Gambier’s sale. Restockers were also active on light conditioned light to medium weight cows, helping to keep prices unchanged. The other cows, namely better covered and heavier weights, sold up to 8¢/kg cheaper to processors.

Prices mostly higher

All the usual processors operated at markets this week, with overall price trends varying for young cattle. Grown steers were limited in number and sold 2¢ dearer at Naracoorte to 3¢/kg easier at Mount Gambier. The grown heifers followed suit to be 5¢ to 10¢ higher at Naracoorte to 9¢/kg lower at Mount Gambier the next day. Cows were equal to cheaper, with heavier weight well-conditioned beef cows selling to the least enquiry.

New South Wales

Consignments improve week-on-week

Throughput across markets reported by MLA’s NLRS reported a 17% rise week-on-week as plain conditioned lines dominated most major selling centres. Consignments at Wagga were up 80% on last week, while Tamworth and Scone yarded over 50% more cattle. A record yarding of 6,250 head at Dubbo saw large lines of export cattle penned as well as plain conditioned yearling lines. Gunnedah and CTLX were also up by just over 30%, yarding 3,420 and 1,959 head, respectively, while Forbes Goulburn and Singleton lifted marginally.

Quality lines hard to source

Quality cattle are still hard to source, predominately in the north of the state as the dry august has exacerbated the lack of feed in most large supply areas. There is however supplementary fed lines scattered through markets this week including Wagga, Gunnedah, Casino and Singleton, although the majority of yardings across the state are in plain condition. Reports suggest most crop fed lines have been offloaded early, affecting their finish due to the continual dry weather. The usual buyers were operating across all sale yards, however export buyer interest was lacking at Gunnedah, Tamworth and Wagga.

Prices slip as quality wanes

Prices trended cheaper this week, as supply of cattle lifted across most saleyards. Vealer steers to restock were firm to slightly dearer for medium weight lines, while D muscle lines were firm to 6¢/kg cheaper. Vealer heifers to slaughter sold 4¢ to 7¢ dearer, while light yearling steers sold from 110¢ to 200¢, back 25¢/kg week-on-week. Feeders paid 174¢ on average, while heavy weights to process eased 7¢ averaging 167¢/kg. Heavy grown steers to process sold 5¢ to 8¢ cheaper, while light weight heifers were back 8¢, ranging from 148¢ to 184¢/kg. Light D2 cows ranged from 70¢ to 120¢, while medium D2 and D3 scores sold 11¢ to 15¢/kg cheaper. The majority of the heavy weight cows ranged from 110¢ to 160¢/kg.

Victoria

Higher supply

Supply increased by around 15% at most selling centres reported on by MLA’s NLRS. Offerings were mainly mixed, ranging from plain to average quality, with some centres penning good supplementary fed drafts of yearlings and better finished grown steers. There was also some very good quality vealers yarded, although they were very limited in numbers. The usual buyers attended markets, however not all operated fully and this aided the general cheaper trend for most cattle categories. Some buyers were even more selective in their purchases this week.

Prices continue to lower

Price trends appeared to lower further as the week progressed, which was not helped by the larger yardings. Earlier in the week young cattle were unchanged to 5¢/kg cheaper. Grown steers were generally 5¢ to 8¢/kg cheaper. Restockers and lot feeders were moderately active at some markets, purchasing well-bred secondary lines of mainly yearling steers and light weight cows. Over-the-hook rates this week gained 5¢ for some light weight vealers. Grown steers averaged 3¢ higher, to range from 340¢ to 345¢, while manufacturing steers were 2¢/kg cwt higher week-on-week. Light weight cows sold from 120¢ to 270¢, while medium and heavy weights sold from 240¢ to 300¢/kg cwt.

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