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 3 October 2008
clock icon 11 minute read
Meat & Livestock Australia


Large northern yardings

Market trends were quite varied throughout all sales at markets reported by MLA’s NLRS. Even though Wodonga grown cattle sale was quite a bit smaller, both this saleyard, and Shepparton are holding up to supply large numbers of cattle, compared to the rest of the state. Other markets varied in supply, although movements were fairly small.

As conditions dry out this early in spring, it is hard to justify a slight lift in quality of the young cattle penned, although there were a reasonable number of supplementary fed cattle offered. Price trends varied between the sales with some quote cheaper, but others were dearer. Coupled with some better quality, the EYCI on Thursday was 3.25¢ higher at 361.75¢/kg cwt. This belies sale figures with a lot of C muscle cattle showing cheaper trends in Victoria, which at times were up to 12¢/kg lower. There was weaker demand for the top quality B muscle vealers and yearlings with this creating some market reports to tender lower prices also.

With the exception of Wodonga, where competition was very strong between a couple of processors, prices were lower for a more mixed, and at times plainer yardings. However, there was no doubt about the cheaper trends for cows with further decreases of 4¢ to 12¢/kg quoted. Price falls for 90CL and 95CL grinding beef for the US market were 33¢/kg cwt lower, and this triggered the weaker demand for lean cows and bulls. Better quality cows suffered along the same lines with wholesalers and exporters all wanting cheaper prices.

Varied demand

Weaker demand from consumers over the past weeks has kept buyer confidence lower. However, it was only the low supply of young cattle that kept prices higher. Now that seasonal increases in numbers have commenced, an advantage has been implemented. The best quality B muscle vealers and supplementary fed yearlings made from 195¢ to 243¢/kg with some very high yielding cattle setting the highest prices. There has not been a huge difference in the prices paid for a good range of C muscle steer and heifer young cattle with a lot of cattle making between 165¢ and 198¢/kg. There were a small number of lightweight vealers and yearlings that made up to 220¢/kg. There was some indifference shown to plainer condition cattle with a lot of prices noted from 125¢ to 160¢/kg.

With competition varying between the different saleyards, prime grown steer prices were mostly between 184¢ and 198¢/kg. However, sales at Wodonga reached 207¢/kg. All cow prices were lower, which saw most of the better quality beef cows make from 145¢ to 169¢/kg. Some of the leaner grades sold better making from 125¢ to 162¢/kg. The carcass weight price average was down to 300¢/kg.


Renewed export demand

Falls to export prices the previous week was a major factor behind keeping the supply of stock at physical markets covered by MLA’s NLRS around the same level experienced in recent weeks. Overall quality in the south of the state has been fair to good with large runs of heavy steers and bullocks and a reduced supply of cows. However at Longreach quality was reported as fairly mixed and this was highlighted in the cow section where about 30% were prime lots with the balance falling away to store drafts. Not all the usual buyers were present at Longreach and store demand from the local area remains limited. The regular field of buyers in southern markets displayed increased competition, and the slide for export prices was reversed for both steers and bullocks and values generally remained firm. Cows also shared in the extra competition and returned to a more buoyant market to realise gains of 3¢ to 6¢/kg.

Prices for some classes of young cattle continued to climb with feeder grades experiencing the strongest demand. Relatively large samples of yearling steers consistently sold around 200¢/kg with heavy grades realising the highest average price. Yearling heifers to lotfeeders experienced similar demand, as most classes received some improvement in price. Feeder operators also displayed confidence in the market with medium weight grown steers suitable to feed on for export slaughter also averaging around 200¢/kg with some top-quality lines achieving higher rates. Local trade cattle generally maintained the previous week’s strong demand with only the occasional sale reaching a higher level.

Feeder cattle dearer

Calves to the trade averaged 200¢ with some isolated sales to 243.6¢, and D muscle lines averaged 173¢/kg. Vealer steers to backgrounders or feeder operators mostly sold around 210¢ with sales to 217.2¢/kg. Vealer heifers to processors across all markets averaged 179¢, with some top-quality lines to local butchers making to 211.2¢/kg. Yearling steers in the medium weight range suitable to feed averaged 3¢ dearer at 200¢ with sales to 208¢, while heavy classes also to feed averaged 6¢ better at 206¢ with sales to 209.2¢/kg.

Slaughter grades of yearling steers in the heavyweight range average 190¢ and also made to 209.2¢/kg. Both light and medium weight yearling heifers to feed averaged 3¢ better at 186¢ with sales to197¢/kg. Medium weight grown steers purchase by the feedlot sector averaged 4¢ better at 200¢ with sales to 209.6¢/kg. Heavy steers to export slaughter sold around 195¢ while bullock portion average close to 198¢ with sales to 205¢/kg. A few certified grainfeds sold from 206.2¢ to 210.2¢/kg. Medium weight 3 score cows averaged 4¢ dearer at 148¢ and the 4 scores 158¢/kg. Good heavy cows consistently sold around 167¢ with the occasional sale to 184.2¢/kg. Heavy bulls maintained strong demand with sales to 205¢ to average 180c/kg.

South Australia

Smaller numbers

Most agents and onlookers were amazed at last Friday’s Naracoorte export cattle sale as another 1,306 cows and 143 bulls greeted the usual South Eastern and Victorian processors. While prices tended to slip, good quality beef cows attracted rates between 153¢ and 165¢, with one Victorian processor appearing to be sourcing 1 and 2 scores to put out onto pasture.

The SA LE yarded almost 30% more and featured quite mixed quality runs of young cattle that led to a fluctuating priced sale due to the soft competition from the usual buyers. Feeder orders were active on lightweight well bred C2 yearling steers at dearer levels, while local butchers and wholesalers were keen to source the limited numbers of B muscled vealers offered. There were more cows penned after last week’s improved prices; however the increased numbers led to all selling at lower levels.

Naracoorte’s young cattle offering was greatly reduced and very mixed in quality. It featured another large yarding of yearling heifers over a wide range of weights and quality. This also makes you wonder what future breeders will still be around after these large weekly sell offs recently.

Mt. Gambier agents also offered a smaller yarding, with quality very mixed on young cattle and cows, while being very good on grown steers and bullocks that sold to very solid SA, Victorian and NSW processor and wholesale competition.

There was a large fall at Millicent after agents decided to reinstate weekly markets.

Fluctuating trends

Due to the varying quality being offered, it allowed buyers to be more discerning and led to fluctuating trends, with only grown steers and bullocks remaining unchanged. Vealer steers attracted a myriad of orders with trade purchases mainly between 182¢ and 235¢ at rates 1¢ to 10¢/kg dearer. Feeders and restockers sourced a wide range of quality from 165¢ to 193¢ at prices varying between 5¢ to10¢ dearer and up to15¢/kg cheaper. Vealer heifers were generally 1¢ to 4¢ dearer, with only a few sales cheaper as most sold to trade and feeder orders between 150¢ and 200¢, with isolated sales to 214c/kg. Yearling steers ranged between 1¢ and 7¢ less and 1¢ to 8¢ dearer as a mixture of orders paid mainly from 150¢ to 214¢/kg to do so. Over 1,600 yearling heifers attracted mainly trade and processor competition between 151¢ and 199¢ at rates ranging from 1¢ to 10¢ cheaper, and unchanged to 6¢/kg dearer.

Grown steer and bullock prices remained unchanged as most C3 and C4 sales ranged between 184¢ and 205¢, with carcase weight prices averaging 340¢/kg statewide. Cows were mostly 1¢ to 8¢ cheaper as most carcase weight prices ranged between 275¢ and 310¢/kg

New South Wales

Yardings mixed

Consignments fluctuated between centres but still remained generally high as the spring selling program gathers pace and many areas move into a drought sell-off phase again. The threat of an uncertain season has hung over some areas throughout most of the year with only short periods of relief but as each week without rain passes, the pressure is mounting and extending into most regions. With the market easing last week, some centres attracted fewer numbers but most held close to last week’s levels.

The notable exceptions were Tamworth where numbers nearly halved and Dubbo where consignments lifted increased. With producers in the area possibly better able to hold onto unfinished stock, the Tamworth yarding comprises mainly well conditioned lots. This contrasted with most other centres which reported large percentages of plainer, lighter cattle still needing some time to reach slaughter condition. Despite their good numbers, unfinished stock continued to meet solid restocker and feeder demand to generally hold firm in an otherwise mainly cheaper young cattle market. A number of centres reported significantly stronger feeder activity, possibly reflecting concern for future supplies and easing grain prices. At Forbes, feeder steer prices lifted 10¢ and 6¢/kg at Wagga while at Scone, both steers and heifers were 6¢ to 9¢/kg dearer.

Grown steers and heifer were again reasonably well supplied in the export pens although cows were still far in the majority. The combination of adequate supply, a volatile currency and the subdued international economy continued to exert pressure on saleyard prices with most heavy cattle 5¢ to 10¢/kg cheaper and significantly more in some instances.

Market Again Cheaper

There was an easier trend throughout most categories although falls were more moderate than last week and there were a few positives. Restocker vealer steers eased 3¢ to average 195¢ but most of the slaughter categories held firm to average 200¢/kg. Most vealer heifers to processors averaged 4¢ lower at 190¢/kg but heavy weights still reached 226¢/kg. Medium weight trade yearling steers were also 3¢ cheaper, averaging 198¢/kg, but feeder steers fared better. Light and medium weights eased 1¢ but heavy weights lifted 5¢ to average 193¢/kg. Feedlots were active on light yearling heifers also, pushing average prices up 5¢ to an average of 184¢/kg. Most yearling heifer categories eased 1¢ to 4¢, most selling from 160¢ to 200¢ to average around 187¢/kg.

Export cattle were also variable but trended cheaper again. Heavy grown steers held firm at 195¢ for the C3s but the C4s were 7¢ cheaper at 198¢ after reaching 214¢/kg. However, bullocks were up to 9¢ dearer at an average of 200¢/kg. Grown heifers held close to firm at 177¢/kg while cows showed some variability. Light 2 scores slipped 5¢ to average 127¢ while medium and heavy weights were firm to 3¢ cheaper, most making from 130¢ to a top of 177¢/kg.

West Australia

Lower saleyard numbers penned

Favourable weather conditions were again recorded in the south western corner of the State with the traditional cattle producing areas of WA receiving further spring rainfall which will add further longevity to this year’s season. The much need rainfall will be a further aid to both pasture and hay crops, which were affected by a recent severe frost that covered much of the Ag districts with detrimental reports already forth coming of grain crops, particularly barley and wheat, but it is still far to early to calculate what affect this will have on this year’s harvest and tonnage and subsequent feed prices. Outside of this temperatures have been reasonably mild and this has aided plant growth. Cattle numbers were impacted by the Monday holiday and subsequent long week end. Midland remained the largest yarding with the Great Southern sale continuing to be limited, irrespective of time of year, while the southwest sale was cancelled. Despite Midland’s sale being only slightly down on the previous week there were fewer pastoral drafts included in that yarding. This could be indicative of time of year or of the reasonably weak demand that has been realised in the market over the past month or so. Subsequently locally bred drafts dominated numbers this week.

Cow supplies were again very healthy, while the numbers of heavy weight steers and heifers remained very low and accounted for a very small percentage of any yarding. Trade weight yearling steer and heifer volumes were unchanged while vealer supplies remained limited also with good numbers of stores available.

Live export demand firm on bulls

As has been the case recently vealers continued to be of light to medium weight ranges with no heavy drafts in excess of 330kg lwt available. Local trade and retailer demand continues firmly on prime quality drafts with rates unchanged, while plainer conditioned drafts continue to realise an equal, but selective restocker interest. Trade weight yearling grass finished steer and heifer quality remained reasonable. Demand from the local trade remained steady on steer classes, while heifers enjoyed a slight improvement in demand with rates subsequently dearer by 3c to 4c/kg lwt. Heavy weight steers and bullocks were again predominately sourced from pastoral regions with only limited supplies on local drafts available. Demand from the trade remained firm with little or no changed recorded in values. This was also the case in mature heifer sales, while the cow market continues to see a firm demand and competition from processors.

Heavy weight 3 and 4 cows averaged 106c/kg lwt which remains well behind advertised quotes out of the eastern states. Heavy weight bull sales were unchanged with a similar but conservative trade interest recorded irrespective of pastoral or locally bred drafts, while lightweight bull demand from the live sector remained equal.

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