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Weekly Australian Cattle Summary

13 March 2009
Meat & Livestock Australia

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

Queensland

A further lift in supply

The supply at physical markets covered by MLA’s NLRS increased 18%, and values for a number of classes lifted to higher levels. The first sale at Longreach for the year finally took place after a few attempts. The rain and the wet conditions over the latter half of the summer contributed to the lack of stock movement up until now. Most of the cattle yarded were from the local area with only one consignment from Quilpie. Minimal numbers are yet to move from the northwest with road access still a problem. All the regular processors were active along with lotfeeders and some local restocker inquiry on the light weight store grades. Mareeba also experienced increased numbers with grown steers and cows making up the majority of the offering.

Most selling centres in the south of the state reported some increased in supply and overall quality was generally good especially with respect to steers bullocks and cows. Steers and bullocks at markets early in the week experienced a lift in value and this trend continued as the week progressed, the certified grainfed portion receiving the largest lift in price. Cow values at the commencement of the week generally remained firm on previous levels, however by the conclusion of midweek sales a large supply of cows displayed improvements of 2¢ to 6¢/kg.

The strong to dearer market experienced by the export grades flowed onto some of the young cattle classes. Lightweight feeders improved the most while medium and heavy grades were generally firm. The heavy slaughter descriptions of both yearling steers and heifers lifted in value due mainly to stronger supermarket support against local butchers and wholesalers.

Most classes dearer

Calves to restockers averaged 2¢ better at 194¢ a few pens reaching 220.2¢/kg. The largest sample of vealer steers were purchased by restockers at an average 194¢ with some to 210.2¢/kg. The relatively large sample of vealer heifers sold to the trade 2¢ dearer at 171¢ with sales to 194¢/kg. Lightweight yearling steers to feed climbed in value by up to 16¢ to average 183¢, and the large sample sold to restockers 10¢ better at 185¢/kg. Heavy slaughter grades averaged 4¢ dearer at 175¢ and sold to 183.2¢/kg. Yearling heifers returned to the paddock 5¢ dearer at 168¢ and heavy grades to the trade improved 4¢ with most sales around 168¢/kg.

Medium weight grown steers to feed remained firm at 165¢ sales to 175.2¢/kg. Heavy steers destined for export slaughter averaged 3¢ better at 173¢ and a small sample of certified grainfeds gained 18¢ to average 193.2¢/kg. Good heavy bullocks improved 7¢ to average 174¢ with sales to 184.2¢, and the certified grainfeds made to 191.2¢/kg. Medium weight 3 score cows across all markets remained firm at 129¢ and 4 scores 2¢ dearer at 138¢/kg. A very large sample of good heavy cows remained firm at 141¢ with sales to 152.2¢/kg.

New South Wales

Season encourages numbers

Throughput at MLA’s NLRS reported saleyards lifted a mere 4% on the sales last week. Armidale witnessed a 16% rise in numbers, initiated by winter being just around the corner, encouraging producers to offload. Also contributing to the larger numbers was a 40% increase in throughput at CTLX, influenced by dry conditions and the recent heat pressuring farmers to de-stock. Despite these larger numbers, several markets witnessed a slip in throughput. Casino’s yarding was 18% below the previous sale, however returned to normal levels following a larger than normal yarding.

A larger percentage of young cattle was offered compared to last week. Yearling steers witnessed a 41% rise in numbers, heavily influenced by a 57% surge in yearlings to feed. Grown steers also witnessed 17% more head, with the majority going to slaughter. In contrast, grown heifers experienced a 26% reduction in throughput. Cow numbers rose 11% with processors continuing to secure the greatest majority.

Overall quality is mixed. In the south of the state, young cattle made up the majority of the offering with a greater percentage of less conditioned grades suitable to restockers and feeders. In the north of the state, grown cattle numbers have lifted containing a number of well finished lines suitable for slaughter.

The Eastern Young Cattle Indicator improved 5.25¢ on the previous week to conclude Thursday’s markets at 318¢/kg cwt. The improved season in the north of the state, keen restocker and feeder demand along with rising activity from processors and export demand have been the underlying factors implicating the welcomed price rise.

Prices surge

Medium weight C muscled vealer steers to processors ranged from 153¢ to 197¢ whilst those to restockers topped at 206¢ to average 185¢/kg. Heavyweights to restockers improved 7¢ to average 188.7¢/kg. Medium weight vealer heifers to slaughter lost 1¢ to average 173¢ with heavyweights holding firm at 164.6¢/kg. Lightweight yearling steers to feeders ranged from 145¢ to 191¢ to average 8¢/kg dearer. Medium weights to feeders lost 1¢ to average 166.3¢ with a top of 181.2¢/kg. Those to restockers improved 4¢ and sold to a top of 190.2¢ whilst heavyweights to slaughter improved 3¢ to average 164.5¢/kg. Medium weight C3 yearling heifers to processors ranged from 140¢ to 198¢ to average 156¢/kg.

Medium weight grown steers to feed were firm to 5¢ dearer ranging from 140¢ to 169.2¢/kg. The C3’s to slaughter improved 2¢ to 159.9¢ with sales to 177¢/kg. Japan ox held firm at 163.7¢ with sales from 148¢ to 175.2¢/kg. Lightweight C3 grown heifers to processors ranged from 128¢ to 163.2¢ to hold firm at 147.1¢/kg. Medium weight D3 cows to slaughter improved 2¢ at 125.2¢ with sales to 138.2¢/kg. Heavyweight D4’s to slaughter improved 2¢ to 130.6¢ whilst C3’s sold to a top of 152.2¢ with most sale around 138.9¢/kg.

South Australia

Numbers increase

With only the South East conducting sales due to the Adelaide Cup public holiday Monday there should be a larger yarding at the SA LE next week if there are still many cattle in that region to sell.

Naracoorte had a similar numbered yarding that featured improved quality runs of nearly 700 young cattle that sold to strong trade and some processor competition at generally dearer levels. This was due to an Adelaide Hills wholesaler who made a conspicuous return, and certainly set a cracking pace on suitably weighted fresh quality vealer steers at rates up to 200¢/kg. Most yearling steers and heifers attracted a dearer trend due to their good quality being assisted by the smaller numbers available, and feeder orders certainly were active over a wide range of weights and quality. One supplementary fed pen of steers sold to a Victorian wholesaler at 180¢/kg lwt. A very good quality yarding of cows sold to strong processor competition from three states, with a Meningie restocker order sourcing plain Shorthorn 1 and 2 scores at around 111¢/kg lwt.

After numbers tumbled by over 980 head at Mt. Gambier last week, the improved prices being paid this week led to a larger yarding being offered on a generally good quality yarding that sold to solid competition from the usual buyers. Feeder and restocker orders were very active on mainly vealer steers and heifers at mainly dearer levels.

Millicent agents yarded increased numbers of mixed quality that sold to varied demand. There was a large run of cows that attracted strong bidding however lights

Most categories dearer

Most categories attracted a generally dearer trend. Vealer steers to the trade sold from 170¢ to 200¢, or 5¢ to 10¢/kg dearer. Feeder orders paid from 154¢ to 181¢ on mainly C2 light and medium weights, with their sales 4¢ to 7¢/kg dearer. Most vealer heifers ranged between 2¢ and 8¢ cheaper, and unchanged to 8¢/kg dearer, with isolated sales even higher as most sold from 150¢ to 190¢, and one sale reaching 206¢/kg after some protracted bidding. Most yearling steers were sourced by the trade at prices between 152¢ and 175¢, or 5¢ to 6¢/kg dearer. Feeder purchases were 10¢ to 13¢ dearer, and mainly from 152¢ to 168¢/kg. Solid trade competition for yearling heifers left most selling between 144¢ and 165¢, with an isolated sale at 170¢/kg on runs weighing mainly over 400kgs lwt.

Grown steers remained quite stable as most C3 and C4 sales ranged between 155¢ and 172¢/kg, with most processors reporting a drop in yields to around 52 to 55%. Cow prices were generally unchanged to 5¢ dearer on good quality runs of heavy 3 to 5 scores that sold mostly between 117¢ and 136¢ lwt, with most carcase weights ranging from 245¢ to 275¢/kg.

Victoria

Strong mountain sales

A highlight of Victorian sales this week was the annual Mountain Weaner sales at Ensay, Omeo and Benambra where 11,850 cattle were offered. Nearly 10,000 of these were through one agent, and is reputably the largest one agent sale in the state. All three days were very well supported by buyers from all over Victoria and a large area of NSW. Given the extremely poor season in the high country a large percentage of the cattle were in very good condition. The excellent breeding though that the sales are renowned for was evident for all to see. Most of the weaners weighed from 200 to 350kg lwt, the top weaners weighed 425kg. The best quality steers made from $570 to $840, and averaged an estimated 196c/kg lwt. Heifer weaners made mostly between $320 and $620/head.

Because of the public holiday on Monday, the supply at prime markets was reduced 30%, which saw fewer cattle offered at the prime sales reported by MLA’s NLRS than the weaner sales. Bairnsdale recorded the greatest reduction with 50% less cattle penned. However, this was due to the Mountain Cattle sales being held over three days. Stronger demand for most classes of cattle saw prices lift 2¢ and 6¢, and up to 10¢/kg. The least affected were cows.

Even though the quality was reported to be quite mixed, there were still a lot of cattle penned in good to very good condition. Bairnsdale supplied the best quality vealers with local district and Orbost vealers selling to the high rates of the previous week.

Dearer prices

The top quality high yielding vealers weighed up to and just over 400kg lwt, made from 185¢ to 222.6¢/kg. Other good quality vealers, over all sales, made from 158¢ to 192¢/kg. Demand was quite strong for C muscle yearling steers, which made between 152¢ and 178¢/kg with a reasonable share purchased by lot feeders. Yearling heifers made mostly from 142¢ to 170¢/kg. Across the eastern states young cattle met strong demand and this was reflected in the EYCI at the close of trade on Thursday climbing 5.25¢ to 318¢/kg cwt.

While grown steers only made up 10% of the total yarding, but there was a large number of these being prime C3 and C4 steers and bullocks. Prices were 3¢ to 4¢ dearer ranging from 145¢ to 175¢/kg. Demand for cows remained strong with prices averaging slightly higher, despite the continued poor global climate. A run of good quality beef cows made from 120¢ to 138¢ with the best to 145¢/kg. Leaner grades of cows made mostly between 85¢ and 122¢ helping to create a carcass weight price average of 250¢/kg. Finally, better quality high yielding bulls lifted in price with sales between 135¢ and 175¢/kg.

West Australia

Increased yardings

The wet conditions continue in much of the north of the state following on from the heavy falls the previous couple of weeks. High river levels remain even though flood levels are starting to recede in certain parts. Pastoralists in the Pilbara and much of the Murchison are expecting strong feed levels in the near future. Conditions in the southwest of the State remained warm and predominately dry, but forecasts have predicted a return to very hot conditions over the weekend. This will be replaced early next week by a weak cold front which could bring some rainfall.

Calving frequency continues to rise as supplementary feeding is also in full swing with limited levels of pasture feed available. The WA industry remains cautious about the near future with the State’s largest export works having laid off 160 workers this week as it continues to restructure the operation.

Cattle numbers at both physical markets were greater, while supplies direct to works remain solid with processors having large numbers booked several weeks in advance. The majority of saleyard numbers were sourced from agricultural districts with pastoral supplies remaining low as would be expected at this time of year. Numbers of heavy weight and steers and heifers remained limited at both of the reported yardings, while trade weight yearling volumes continued to be fair. Cow supplies were conservative given the moderate trade demand of the past month, while vealer supplies although lower continued to be fair. Live export activity in the southern corner of the State remains purchasing in both saleyards and on farm.

Cow and bulls sales buoyed

There was a further decline in the weight and condition of vealers yarded. The supplies of heavy weight vealers constricted sharply with the majority being of medium and lightweight. Trade competition was very limited but much of this was due to the plainer quality of heavy weights. The market however was maintained on heavy weight steer vealers, which recorded a continued solid demand from the feeder and live export sectors. Medium and lightweight vealer steers however failed to generate the same level of competition, predominately from the restocker sector with rates slightly lower. Heavy weight heifer rates eased marginally, while medium and lightweight sales remained firm to a reasonable feeder and restocker demand. trade weight yearling steer sales were marginally higher due to an increased competition between the local trade and live export sectors with the average approximately 5¢/kg lwt dearer. Trade weight yearling heifer sales remained unchanged to the local trade.

Heavy weight steer and heifer sales rose marginally, while an increase in demand for heavy weight 3 and 4 score cows created stronger market conditions. Heavy weight bull sales were also recorded at dearer levels from and increase in trade competition averaging 118¢/kg lwt.

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