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Weekly Australian Cattle Summary

19 December 2008
Meat & Livestock Australia

AUSTRALIA - This report is a collection of weekly cattle price summaries from each Australian state by the Meat & Livestock Australia.

South Australia

Reduced numbers

Mt. Gambier yarded 1,022 export cattle on Monday that featured only 270 heavy grown steers due to a NSW order not being in the South East this week, and 709 cows. The steers attracted a slightly dearer trend, with cow prices varying as buyers tried to lower their rates under 140¢/kg.

The SA LE yarded slightly fewer cattle in a better quality selection. These sold to a dearer trend from the usual buyers who were trying to source reasonable numbers to ride out the Christmas and New Year break. They were backed up by strong feeder activity that was probably triggered by the previous Friday’s heavy rain in many regions with anywhere between 25 and 100mm being reported.

Naracoorte’s smaller young cattle yarding was in very mixed quality runs. Trade competition was boosted by a NSW order that lead to yearling steers and heifers in his weight range attracting a dearer trend, as the other buyers were forced to lift their rates to compete. Vealer steers attracted solid feeder and restocker inquiry at much lower prices than witnessed at recent weaner sales, where many lightweights have attracted estimated prices up to 230¢/kg.

Mt. Gambier’s young cattle yarding fell by over a half after the excellent rainfall in that district. Despite quality being very mixed, there was strong competition over all categories from the regular buyers at generally dearer levels.

Millicent went against the trend as a larger yarding that featured some magnificent B muscled vealers that sold to strong Victorian wholesaler competition.

Dearer trend

Vealer steers to the trade sold from 175¢ to 198¢ for the B muscled, and 162¢ to 187¢ for the C muscled at rates mainly 2¢ to 8c/kg dearer. Feeder and restocker purchases were between 165c¢ and 188¢, varying from 2¢ to 5c¢ dearer, and 4¢ to 13¢/kg cheaper. Vealer heifers were unchanged to 9¢ dearer mostly to the trade between 145¢ and 175¢, with spirited bidding lifting lightweight prices to 193¢/kg. Yearling steers to a mixture of orders sold mainly between 158¢ and 178¢ with B muscled to 188¢ to the trade, while ranging from 148¢ to 183¢ to feeder and restocker orders. This left most 5¢ to 17¢/kg dearer with feeder rates at the higher end. Yearling heifers sold to the trade between 144¢ and 170¢ for the C3 heifers averaging 10¢ dearer, and 120¢ to 145¢ for the D3’s, or unchanged to 3¢/kg cheaper. Plain quality to restockers sold below 115¢/kg.

Small numbers of grown steers were basically unchanged from 155¢ to 175¢, or 290¢ to 310¢/kg cwt. Cows ranged from 1¢ to 7¢ dearer, and unchanged to 4¢ cheaper, with most 2 to 5 scores selling between 115¢ and 144¢, or 250¢ to 285¢/kg cwt.

West Australia

Turnoff remains high

The unusual weather pattern that the southern corner of the state has experienced this summer continued with more fine and mild temperatures experienced. The majority of the Agricultural districts remained dry with rainfall generally confined to the southern and south eastern coastal districts. Harvest is still dragging out with much of the southern cereal crops now down grades after the unseasonal wet weather of the past six weeks. This continues to work in the favour of feeders who now have access to far greater volumes of cheap feed grain.

The longevity of the season in the south continues with reasonable supplies of green grass still evident and this continues to allow producers to hang onto this years vealers. This has caused only small numbers of calves forwarded into the Great Southern’s sale with supplies well down for this time of year. Agents have predicted that this will change post Christmas when numbers are expected to be very high.

Cattle numbers in the three major yards remained very large with Midland’s live weight sale again having sold in excess of 3,000 head. Additionally to this there were again several annual vealer and female sales. Local cattle dominated the supplies this week, but despite this there remained reasonable numbers of pastoral cows and bulls sold. Heavy weight steer and heifer supplies remained tight, grass finished yearling cattle numbers were solid with very strong supplies of both cows and new season vealers available. Trade demand remained relatively strong with a considerably stronger feeder and restocker demand realised.

Feeder and restocker demand rises

Vealer weight was again heavier this week with quality remaining very mixed. Trade and local retailer demand was recorded at firm levels for heavy weight steer and heifer vealers. The strong seasonal conditions in the southwest corner of the State continue to fuel a strong restocker demand for vealers with this demand also recorded in heavy weight categories. Feeder demand was also increased and the majority of classes recorded dearer rates of between 5¢ to 10¢/kg lwt. Trade weight grass finished yearling quality was reasonable and both steers and heifers enjoyed a slightly increased local trade demand, which created marginal rates rises. Additionally to this there was also a selective live export demand also realised on steer grades.

Bullock quality was plainer this week and subsequently the value for these eased. Heavy steers reversed this trend and rose 2¢/kg for an average of 154¢/kg. There was a solid quality evident in the cow yarding. Processor interest lifted and the market for 3 and 4 score heavy weight cows regained the losses of the previous week to average 116¢/kg. Live export demand for lightweight bulls increased with several orders operational in the market.

New South Wales

Numbers decline

Cattle supply reduced for the last sales for the year after good weekend rain and the wind down in trading affected numbers at most centres. Around 70mm at Tamworth and 25 to 30mm at Wagga reduced numbers on Monday.

The trend continued through the week and culminated in much smaller offerings at Dubbo and Armidale on Thursday due to a number of processors not killing next week. The overall result at MLA’s NLRS reported sales was a reduction of around 30%.

Young cattle dominated most yardings as export cattle supply tapers off. A few centres reported a better run of vealers with autumn drop calves entering the market and these generally met strong butcher demand as buyers attempted to ensure supplies over the holiday period. The young cattle market varied across the state although most price changes were moderate.

Prime vealers and light weights to restockers were generally dearer. Scone recorded substantial increases of up to 18¢/kg as local butchers and processors competed strongly in a greatly reduced yarding. Restockers were also more active after weekend rain, pushing rates for vealer and light yearling steers up by 9¢ to 12¢/kg.

Export cattle were scarce at most centres as cow supplies also tightened. CTLX Carcoar was the exception, attracting good numbers of grown steers and heifers Competition was stronger pushing prices up to 7¢/kg dearer across most centres.

Market steady

The cattle market ended the year on a stable footing with average prices across all sales varying only slightly. The only notable exception was for light vealer steers returning to the paddock. These lifted 15¢ to average 204¢/kg, largely due to isolated demand surges at a few which had enjoyed good weekend rain. Heifer vealers to processors made more moderate gains of 1¢ to 3¢ to range from 164¢ to 218¢/kg for medium weight C2 and C3s. Light yearling steers to restockers eased 4¢ to average 185¢/kg while medium weights to feeders held steady at 176¢ after reaching 193¢/kg. Heavy weights to processors were just 1¢ dearer at 174¢/kg average. Yearling heifers also showed little change but tended slightly cheaper. Feeders were active on light and medium weights and these most ranged from 140¢ to 190¢ to average 167¢/kg. Heavy weights to processors reached 188¢ and average 166¢/kg.

Grown steers met steady demand for limited numbers. Medium weights to feeders averaged 3¢ dearer at 175¢ while heavy C3 and C4s to processors held firm at 168¢/kg. Grown heifers edged higher to average 162¢ while cows were mainly firm to 4¢/kg dearer for the few light weights. The heavy D4s reached 153¢ and averaged 142¢/kg.

Victoria

Cattle supply falls away

There have been some interesting trends occurring throughout the week, and these have mainly been influenced by the upcoming break for the Christmas and New Year holiday season. The supply of cattle has fallen away, and there has not been full competition at all markets with at least export processor closing for the holiday season early in the week.

This affected the supply of cattle at Wodonga, and with East Gippsland producers receiving continued good rainfall a very small market was yarded, even though there is three weeks before their next sale. Added to all of this is the global economic crisis, which has seen all of our export customers come upon hard times. The only positive outcome is the US lean beef market, which lifted last week, and assisted in higher prices at the physical markets reported by MLA’s NLRS.

Nearly all price trends for the week were unchanged to 6c/kg dearer with better quality young cattle, and bullocks and cows setting the trend. Much needed rain throughout all of the eastern seaboard states has seen demand lift from feedlots and producers. This strong interaction has aided a lift of 2¢ to the EYCI, which closed at 331.75¢/kg cwt on Thursday evening.

The only real negative trend was for bulls, despite a lift in the selling price to the US. With one processor closed, and most others not wanting to hold any over for the break, prices were 6¢ to 20¢/kg lower.

Prices mainly dearer

All markets recorded smaller yardings for the last week of trading with supply being reduced around 25%. Despite the current trend of poorer meat sales, weaker overseas trends for most grown cattle, and larger slaughter figures for Victoria compared to the previous week, prices were mostly higher.

The best quality milk vealers showed the largest gains with some sales up 10¢, which saw most range from 180¢ to 205¢/kg. All other vealers, and yearlings sold well, partly influenced by the stronger demand from feeders. Prices for C muscle cattle in these categories were mostly between 150¢ and 184¢/kg.

Despite the downturn in supply there have been a lot of good quality grown cattle penned. Prime C3 and C4 bullocks were up to 6¢ dearer, making from 160¢ to 180¢/kg. The Japan Ox indicator was 2¢/kg higher than last week. While cow prices were higher, leaner grades showed the larger increase of up to 7¢/kg. Most of these made between 110¢ and 142¢ with better quality beef and dairy cows making between 135¢ and 160¢/kg. Lack of demand saw better quality high yielding bulls make from 155¢ to 180¢/kg.

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