Weekly Australian Cattle Summary

AUSTRALIA - This report is a collection of weekly cattle price summaries from each Australian state by the Meat & Livestock Australia.
calendar icon 30 May 2008
clock icon 11 minute read
Meat & Livestock Australia

New South Wales

Numbers up

Cattle continue to be marketed in considerable numbers as the deteriorating season forces producers to dig deeper into their herds. Most centres attracted increased consignments – the most notable lift being at Forbes where numbers more than doubled. While most yardings showed a steady decline in quality as feed runs out, Forbes defied the trend to offer more well-finished cattle than what have been evident in recent weeks.

More generally, quality and condition declined with only isolated pens of prime trade young cattle penned. A few centres such as Scone and Casino offered small numbers of supplementary fed yearlings and these attracted stronger competition, as did the few fresh milk vealers. The market strongly correlated with quality to register a significant price differential between prime and unfinished lots at a number of centres. While restocker and feeder cattle were plentiful, buyers remain cautious in light of ongoing concerns about pasture and grain supplies. Despite these concerns and the mixed quality available, prices generally held up to vary only a slightly either side of firm with prime yearlings and well bred store lines generally making small gains.

Against the pattern of recent weeks, grown steers and bullocks were better represented at a number of centres and generally sold to stronger competition. Gunnedah, Tamworth, Wagga and Bathurst all reported improved quality and numbers of export weight steers with a corresponding lift of 5¢ to 10¢/kg. Best gains were for the younger pens. Conversely, cow yardings were mainly plainer – and in some cases smaller – with a greater proportion of light weights. Where reasonable numbers and quality were offered, prices generally lifted.

Little price movement

The young cattle market maintained a firm to dearer trend despite a continued decline in finish. Most vealer steers went to restockers at firm prices with medium weights selling to 201¢ to average 174¢/kg. Both steer and heifer vealers for slaughter held close to unchanged, reaching 209¢/kg for C muscled lots to average 160¢ to 170¢/kg. Yearlings made moderate gains of 2¢ to 4¢ with most medium weight feeder steers ranging from 140¢ to 185¢ for an average of 166¢/kg. Trade yearling steers peaked at 220¢ for an isolated sale to average slightly dearer at around 174¢/kg. The better conditioned 3 score feeder heifers lifted 11¢ on the strength of quality to average 159¢ while medium and heavy slaughter heifers averaged 3¢ to 4¢ dearer at around 162¢ after reaching 192¢/kg.

A better selection of grown steers at a number of centres helped lift overall average prices 2¢ to 6¢/kg with greater rises for younger lots. The heavy steers ranged from 143¢ to 187¢ to average 170¢/kg. Grown heifers also lifted 2¢ to average 144.5¢/kg. Despite a general fall in weight and finish among cows, prices were dearer by up to 9¢/kg with heavy D4s most affected. These reached 151¢ to average 136¢/kg. Medium D3s were 2¢ dearer at 121¢/kg while light D2s were unchanged at 99¢/kg.


Light falls of rain

The predicted rain event did eventuate however very little has fallen across the main cattle producing areas with the heaviest falls very close to coastal districts. More rain is predicted and should this eventuate to give beneficial moisture this will allow large plant of winter cereal crops.

Supply at physical markets covered by MLA’s NLRS only realised a small lift. Overall quality is still on the decline with calves and vealers suffering the most from the dry and cold conditions. However regardless of the slip in condition of the lightweight cattle values were able to remain solid and even display some improvement. With just a hint of some rain by midweek restockers were very active in the market lifting the values of calves at Dalby by over 20¢/kg. Restockers also competed strongly against feeder operators on the yearling grades improving values for the steer portion by 7¢/kg. Yearling heifers in the light weight range to feed remain firm, however the heavy descriptions to the trade lifted by 10¢/kg. Strong feeder demand also flowed onto the medium weight grown steers with a fair selection realising a small lift of 2¢/kg.

Export slaughter grades of heavy steers and bullocks across all markets remain firm on the improved rates of the previous week. However at various markets supplementary fed grades and some consignments from western districts experienced a small lift in value. Most classes of cows continued to be in demand with light condition grades receiving strong competition from both processors and restockers.

Young cattle dearer

A large selection of calves returned to the paddock 14¢/kg dearer at 189¢ with a few pens of well bred grades reaching 222¢/kg. Trade descriptions remained firm at close to 163¢/kg. Vealers steers generally sold to backgrounders or restockers in the early to mid 180¢/kg range, with a few sales to 216¢/kg. The poor quality vealer heifers averaged 136¢, while the better lines suited to the butcher market made to 198¢ to average 170¢/kg. A large supply of lightweight yearling steers sold to restockers 11¢ better at 177¢ with sales to 196¢/kg. Lightweight feeders averaged 174¢, while medium and heavy weights made around 170¢/kg mark. Yearling heifers to the trade improved 2¢ for the medium weights to average just under 160¢, and heavy classes 10¢/kg dearer at close to 164¢/kg.

Medium weight grown steers purchased by feeder operators made from 150¢ to 169¢ to average 165¢/kg. Heavy steers to export slaughter mostly sold around 166¢, while good heavy bullocks made to 173¢ to average 168¢/kg. Medium weight 2 score cows averaged 112¢, and 3 scores 124¢/kg. Good heavy cows were well supplied and generally sold around 135¢, with a few sales to 146¢/kg. Reasonable samples of heavy bulls average 130¢ and made to 143.6¢/kg.


Slaughter numbers high

Cattle slaughter across the eastern seaboard has reached its highest levels for quite some time, which has been compounded by higher than normal figures in both Queensland, and NSW. Victoria also slaughtered the largest number for some time for the week ending May 23rd. Yardings across NLRS reported centres were mixed compared with last week. Overall throughput increased around 8%. The quality of cattle presented at most sales has slipped as we draw closer to winter with still only minimal rainfall. This has led to some cheaper price trends for plainer condition cattle, particularly heifers.

One could normally expect that given these conditions and the high value of the A$, one could expect prices to be lower. While saleyard numbers have been slightly larger in some Victorian markets, and peripheral interstate markets, cattle consigned direct to the abattoirs have declined in number. This is due to the higher saleyard figures achieved over the past couple of weeks, which has put a lot of pressure on processors for supply. This is particularly evident in grown cattle sales where bullocks and cows have defied the results being achieved in Queensland, and northern NSW.

A flow on effect has occurred at young cattle sales with moderate price increases witnessed. While the Eastern young cattle indicator (EYCI) was only 3¢ dearer to 315¢/kg cwt this week, liveweight prices have improved a further 3¢ to 10¢/kg for bullocks and cows. The Victorian US cow indicator finished Thursday’s sales up 6¢ on last week at 142¢/kg lwt to be equal with SA and above all other states.

Cows in strong demand

There were fewer very good to top quality B muscle vealers, and supplementary fed yearlings offered, and this change in quality saw prices average lower for vealers, while others sold at unchanged to dearer trends. Prices for B muscle vealers were between 190¢ and 231¢, while the best of the supplementary fed yearlings made to 226¢/kg. However, large numbers of C and D muscle cattle, over varying weight ranges averaged firm to dearer. The C muscle grades made mostly from 145¢ to 185¢, and D muscle cattle made from 125¢ to 162¢/kg. Feedlots were again very active throughout all sales trying to secure supply for the winter with prices ranging from 145¢ to 180¢/kg.

Very strong demand for bullocks saw prices firm another 1¢ to 3¢/kg. Prime C3 and C4 bullocks made between 162¢ and 187¢ with grown steers making to 191¢/kg. The best competition again occurred for cows with abattoirs struggling with the lack of supply, and easing of working hours. Prices were a further 3¢ to 12¢/kg dearer. Better quality cows made from 130¢ to 160¢, and leaner grades of cows made between 110¢ and 142¢/kg. The carcass weight price average across all categories was 287¢/kg, which is still above over-the-hook offers.

South Australia

Increased numbers

After last week’s improved prices there were contrasting yardings. At the SA LE there was a smaller yarding featuring some excellent quality supplementary fed yearlings. However, at Naracoorte there was an increased yarding was offered, with the young cattle looking more like a store sale. This left most trade buyers out of the equation, as feeder and restockers sourced the majority. This was tempered by a large good quality yarding of heavy cows that sold to strong Victorian and SA processor competition.

Mt. Gambier agents yarded slightly increased numbers. While the trade and local butchers were hamstrung by lack of quality, there was strong demand for the supplementary feds at the SA LE. This was particularly noticeable there with so few vealers offered with local butchers and wholesalers being forced to purchase the lighter end of the yearlings to source supplies. Feeder and restocker orders were active at all sales, albeit at fluctuating prices due to the wide range of quality on offer.

Export categories were keenly sourced and generally attracted a dearer trend due to the strong Victorian and SA processor competition in the South East, after increased prices direct issued last week. This led to grown steer and bullocks prices being mainly above 170¢, with 3 and 4 score cows once again selling above the 150¢/kg mark again, as carcase weight prices lifted over 300¢/kg occasionally. However, the small SA LE yarding lost ground as all sales slipped back below 142¢/kg.

Fluctuating trends

Most vealer steers were purchased by feeder and restocker interests between 166¢ and 187¢ to range from 1¢ dearer to unchanged to 2¢/kg cheaper. Limited trade purchases were mainly from 175¢ to 215¢/kg. While more vealer heifers finished with the trade, the varying quality offered led to most being sourced by feeder and restocker orders. Most sales were between 150¢ and 175¢, with isolated sales reaching 218¢/kg. These rates ranged from unchanged to 2¢ dearer, to 1¢ to 10¢/kg less. Trade purchases of yearling steers increased due to the improved quality runs of supplementary feds at the SA LE, with C3 sales mainly between 165¢ and 200¢ at rates unchanged to 5¢/kg less. Feeders and restockers sourced a wide range of quality and weights between 128¢ and 187¢/kg at basically unchanged rates. Yearling heifers followed a similar pattern as most sold from 145¢ to 193¢ to the trade; and between 126¢ and 170¢ to feeder and restocker activity at rates unchanged to 2¢ to 6¢/kg less.

Grown steer and bullock prices were unchanged to 1¢ dearer, with C3 sales between 165¢ and 184¢/kg. Most cows were 2¢ to 5¢ dearer, with carcase weight prices in a 275¢ and 300¢/kg vicinity.

Western Australia

Young store cattle dominate

The milder temperatures now being realised in the north of the state continues to see an increase in mustering activity and this in turn has seen live export activity also more active. Further to the south, conditions in the southern agricultural districts continue to widen with rainfall recordings again spread over a wide range. Areas to the south of Perth have again received further encouraging falls of rain, while areas to the north and east remain in desperate need of moisture to continue cropping programmes and to ensure further growth in pastures.

The majority of calving has now finished with only late drops still left to occur. Cattle numbers in saleyards were marginally lower than the previous week with Midland and Mt Barker in the south remaining the largest selling centres with southwest volumes remaining constricted, which given their current high feed levels is not surprising. As is usual for this time of year Midland’s yarding continues to see an increase in the supplies direct from pastoral regions. The volumes of prime slaughter grade cattle were again minimal irrespective of age, weight or sex and this continued to encourage a strong demand from the trade. The vast majority of yardings were again made up of young store cattle with most of these continuing to be of weights less than 300kg. The dry conditions and late start to the season in the southeast of the state, in and around Esperance, has seen many producers in these areas turn off stores that would normally be fatten for sale in the spring.

Cows peak at 144¢/kg cwt

Vealer suppliers were again confined to lightweight classes of less than 100kg cwt with these again enjoying a solid local and retail trade demand with little or no change in the market. Plainer grades were strongly sought after by southwest restockers with market rates buoyant. Trade weight yearling grades, either grass or grain finished were very hard to find irrespective of the area they were sourced from and processor demand remained unchanged. A similar case was also realised in heavyweight steer and bullock categories and the very small numbers again made quoting dearer, apart from processor demand remaining solid. Store quality and weight remain mixed with many showing the signs of the hard seasonal conditions experienced in the areas they have been sourced from. Feeder demand, although again very selective, remained solid in medium and heavier weight classes of both sexes, while lightweight classes have were again strongly sought after by southwest restockers. Heavyweight heifers and cows continued to see improvement in their rates as tight supplies entice stronger trade demand. The market for heavyweight 3 and 4 score cows rose by as much as 14¢/kg to a high 144¢/kg or an average of 135¢/kg cwt.

TheCattleSite News Desk

© 2000 - 2024 - Global Ag Media. All Rights Reserved | No part of this site may be reproduced without permission.