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 27 June 2008
clock icon 9 minute read
Meat & Livestock Australia


Values turnaround

The supply of stock varied from centre to centre at physical markets covered by MLA’s NLRS, and numbers overall for the week realised only a small decline of a few hundred head.

Traditionally this time of the year young cattle are very mixed in quality, from well presented grades through to poor condition classes. Export slaughter steers and bullocks remained relatively small in numbers however quality is reasonably good. Cows are more plentiful and overall quality is good with most in the 3 and 4 score ranges, nevertheless as the weather gets colder and drier in some areas poor condition lines are becoming more predominant.

Values turnaround for a large number of categories. Very strong competition on calves returning to the paddock lifted in price by 20¢/kg, regardless of the comparatively large supply. Slaughter grades of vealer heifers generally sold around a firm market. Local trade descriptions of yearling steers experienced a lift of 4¢, and the heifer portion to slaughter in the heavyweight range improved up to 7¢/kg. However feeder grades of yearling steers generally sold around the strong rates experienced in recent weeks.

Additional buyer support from local and interstate processors at Dalby on the steers and bullocks saw values climb up by 12¢ to 15¢/kg. The extra demand for export grades across all markets flowed onto the cows with good heavy cows gaining 3¢, and a combination of restocker and processor demand on the poorer grades realised gains of 9¢ to 15¢/kg.

Bullocks dearer

Calves to restockers received the largest boost in values, with a good supply averaging 20¢ dearer at 197¢, with sales recorded to 229¢/kg. Slaughter descriptions gained 4¢ to average 173¢ with some to 190¢/kg. Vealer steers to feeder operators averaged 187¢, and restocker grades 189¢/kg. Vealer heifers to the trade averaged 169¢ and sold to 184¢, with the heavy grades purchased by local butchers making to the occasional 210¢/kg. Yearling steers to feed generally sold in the mid 170¢/kg range, while heavy lines to the trade were 4¢ better at 174¢, a few B muscle certified grainfeds to 213.2¢/kg. Yearling heifers to slaughter also enjoyed a stronger market with the heavy end improving 7¢ to average 171¢ with sales to 184¢/kg.

Medium weight grown steers to feed in small numbers averaged 4¢ dearer at just under 169¢/kg. Heavy steers to export slaughter made to 185¢ with most sales 7¢ better at 173¢/kg. Bullocks lifted 11¢ to average 175¢ after selling to 192.6¢, a couple of B muscle categories made to 194.2¢/kg. Export buyers turned to grown heifers to fill loads with sales to 188¢, with most at 176¢/kg. Medium weight 3 score cows in the largest numbers averaged 5¢ dearer at 124¢ while good heavy cows realised an improvement of 3¢ to average 140¢, the occasional Charolais cow reaching 155¢/kg.


Quality waning

The winter solstice has passed, and as usual some of the worst weather conditions have commenced. The wet, windy, and cold conditions is affecting the condition of a lot of the cattle marketed at the moment. At physical markets reported by MLA’s NLRS there are still significant numbers of reasonable to good quality cattle being sold, but there are equally as many plain, and poor condition cattle being offered. It is becoming increasingly noticeable the hair standing up on a lot of the cattle, which is a sure sign of flagging quality.

Some of the poorly bred and poor quality young cattle have sold to cheaper trends, however the good number of C muscle 2, 3 and 4 score yearlings have managed to sell at unchanged rates. The good prices achieved for these cattle has caused the EYCI to creep up to finish 8.50¢ higher, and at the close of trade Thursday was 337.25¢/kg cwt.

Demand has continued on strongly for grown steers, cows and particularly bulls with most prices being firm to dearer. It will be interesting to see how prices evolve over the next few weeks with export processors soon to commence their round of maintenance closures. However, not all will close, and with a northern processor now well entrenched in southern sales, competition could retain a lot of its current strong trends. It is interesting to note, that while paddocks are green across a lot of the state, current state rain fall is around half that of last year to June 30th.

Export demand strong

There were precious few of the top quality B muscle vealers offered, and overall only a small selection of other vealers were penned. Although remaining high, prices were not quite up to last weeks levels, despite continued comments of poor meat sales. The best quality B muscle vealers reached 245¢/kg. Prices for supplementary fed yearlings were not quite as high with most sales being from 195¢ to 222¢/kg. Medium weight C3 yearling steers fell 2¢ and averaged 191¢ with C2s to feeders also 2¢ less at 174¢/kg.

With our overseas markets remaining strong for both meat and offal products, grown cattle prices are very strong. A general small supply of grown steers were firm to 3¢ dearer and ranged from 168¢ to 190¢ for bullocks and up to 199.6¢ for heavy 0 to 2 teeth steers selling to processors. Plainer grades made mostly from 145¢ to 178¢/kg. There continues to be intense demand for the better quality 3 and 4 score cows which have made from 135¢ to 165¢/kg. The best demand however has been for the plainer 1 and 2 scores, which have made between 112¢ and 145¢/kg. This has created a carcass weight price average of 294¢/kg.

South Australia

Numbers stable

A lack of substantial rain over the past couple of weeks has many cattle producers concerned as feed supplies tighten. However, the one positive aspect at the moment has been a lack of heavy frosts that normally appear in June.

The cow sell off continues after around 1,700 were sold the previous week, with Naracoorte offering 662 head more this week, as word of more country being put into crop circulated the saleyard. This will lead to an interesting scenario should little winter rain fall, with many now not expecting substantial rains until August. There were also 668 cows sold at Mt. Gambier that also included large lines of well bred Friesians, with only 165 offered at the SA LE.

There was a similar number overall yarding at the SA LE that contained improved quality runs of supplementary fed yearlings that sold to fluctuating competition from the usual wholesale and processor orders. Naracoorte’s yarding was only slightly larger, and featured a few more prime young cattle, with 203¢/kg lwt being paid for some excellent B muscled supplementary fed yearling heifers from the Telopea Downs region.

Mt. Gambier’s sale featured a smaller yarding of grown steers and bullocks as numbers tighten with a South East processor closing soon for a month. While most young cattle prices tended to fluctuate at both southern sales, there were some interesting prices paid for 1 and 2 score cows spurred on by some restocker activity, while the operating SA and Victorian processors tried to wind their prices back on the 3 to 5 scores.

Interesting trends

Vealer steers were sourced mainly by feeder and restocker orders between 168¢ and 185¢ to range from unchanged to 3¢ cheaper, to 1¢ to 11¢/kg dearer. Limited trade purchases were from 175¢ to 234¢ or 4¢ to 14¢/kg more. Vealer heifer sales followed a similar trend with feeder and restocker purchases mainly between 140¢ and 182¢, with the trade paying from 158¢ to 213¢/kg. This left sales varying between 3¢ and 8¢ lower, and unchanged to 11¢/kg dearer. Prime yearling steers to the trade ranged 3¢ either side of unchanged, while other sales were mainly 3¢ to 8¢/kg cheaper. This left most sales ranging between 140¢ and 201¢, with B-muscled supplementary feds to 219¢/kg. Yearling heifer prices were also hard to follow as they varied between 11¢ dearer to 9¢/kg less to a mixture of buying orders that led to most selling from 128¢ to 196¢, with sales of supplementary feds to 206c/kg.

Grown steer and bullock prices fell another 1¢ to 3¢ with most sales between 174¢ and 186¢, and averaged close to 335¢/kg cwt. Cow sales ranged from 1¢ to 2¢ dearer and 1¢ to 8¢/kg cheaper, with most carcase weights in a 275¢ to 305¢/kg price range.

New South Wales

Numbers Slide

Numbers fell by around 25% at MLA’s NLRS reported sales as useful rain in some areas and the traditional winter supply reduction had an impact. Wagga recorded the largest fall after late but encouraging rain in some supply areas. Other centres to yard considerably fewer numbers were Dubbo, Tamworth, Forbes and Singleton. Other centres had similar or only slightly reduced offerings.

Largely as a result of the reduced supply, prices were generally dearer, particularly for the unfinished young cattle as feedlots increased orders and prices at most sales. Restockers were also strong on suitable descriptions and processors were generally forced to follow the trend on a widespread shortage of prime slaughter stock. At Gunnedah, numbers held steady on recent reduced yardings but the inclusion of some good quality crop fattened and supplementary fed young cattle may offer processors some optimism for future supplies if the season permits. Overall, quality reflected the on-going wintry drought conditions and were it not for a few pens of supplementary fed stock, some centres would have had virtually no prime cattle to quote.

At Scone, where very few prime cattle were offered, heavy export cattle were also limited with grown steer and bullock numbers reduced by half. The same trend was evident at most centres with the tight supply further improving prices, especially for heavy milk and two tooth steers which pushed towards 200¢/kg at some sales. Cows made up the bulk of the export offerings and generally maintained a reasonable cross section of categories.

Market strengthens

Feedlots and restockers drove a stronger young cattle market which saw price rises of 5¢ to 15¢/kg for the main categories. Light vealer steers to restockers lifted 5¢ to average 188¢/kg. The same weight heifers to slaughter were 12¢ dearer, reaching 205¢ to average 179¢/kg. Light restocking yearling steers also gained 7¢ to average 178¢ while those to feeders were 14¢ dearer and averaged 182¢/kg. Medium and heavy feeder steers were 6¢ dearer after reaching 208¢/kg. Most of the yearling heifers also went back onto feed or into the paddock at prices 10¢ to 15¢ above last week. Most made from 150¢ to 180¢ to average around 168¢/kg. The best C3 medium and heavy slaughter heifers made to 209¢ and averaged 177¢/kg.

Grown steers lifted 6¢ to 7¢/kg on limited numbers. Lightweights to feeders averaged 173¢/kg while heavy weight C3 and C4s made to 201¢ to average around 181¢/kg. Grown heifers were a shade dearer, making to 187¢ to average 159¢/kg. The cow market continued its steady ascent with most descriptions 2¢ to 4¢/kg dearer. Restockers paid to 135¢ for light D2s while the medium weight D3s averaged 130¢. The best heavy D4s made to 154¢ and averaged 143¢/kg.

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