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 March 2009
clock icon 11 minute read
Meat & Livestock Australia


Supply climbed in the north

The supply of at stock varied at markets in the south of the state. However in the north as the country dries out numbers at Mareeba more than doubled. A similar trend developed at Longreach where supply almost doubled compared to the previous market two weeks ago. There was a good consignment of local cattle and some lots from as far away as Alice Springs, although western cattle were still only in small numbers. Overall supply at physical markets covered by MLA’s NLRS lifted 25%.

The annual trend of a climb in numbers continued at Warwick and reached a yearly record with large numbers of calves being weaned straight into the saleyards. The previous large yarding at occurred in early April 2008, and a record number came forward in April 2007. Young cattle at early week markets received strong support while lesser quality lines allowed average prices to ease. Buyer representation was good although lacked support from some processors in the export section, and steers and bullocks lost 10¢ to 11¢ and cows fell 7¢ to 10¢/kg.

Following falls in value of the previous week a reduced number of stock came forward, and was offered to a full field of buyers at Dalby. Despite all the export buyers back in the market and operating values for steers and bullocks fell a further 2¢ to 4¢ and cows were cheaper by 3¢ to 4¢/kg. Young cattle also generally suffered price reductions, however feeder descriptions of yearling steers went against the trend to be firm to 3¢/kg dearer.

Most classes cheaper

Calves to the trade lost 6¢ to average 166¢, and restocker grades were in the largest numbers and fell 17¢ to average 177¢ with some to 228.2¢/kg. Vealer steers mostly sold to feeder operators 4¢ dearer at 188¢, with some B muscle grades going to the trade at 230.2¢/kg. Vealer heifers to the trade were well supplied and the C2s lost 13¢ to average just under 159¢, with a small number of sales to 189.2¢/kg. Medium and heavy weight yearling steers to feed across all markets experienced very little change in value with most sales close to 170¢/kg. Heavy slaughter descriptions fell 5¢ to also average 170¢/kg. Yearling heifers purchased by the trade averaged 4¢ cheaper at 162¢ with a few sales recorded to 180¢/kg.

Medium weight grown steers to feed received very little change in value at 165¢ with sales to 175.2¢/kg. Heavy steers to export slaughter mostly sold around 6¢ cheaper at 163¢/kg. Bullocks lost a similar amount to average 163¢ with a few pens reaching 174.2¢/kg. Medium weight 1 score cows averaged 9¢ less at 99¢ and the 2 scores 7¢ cheaper at 112¢/kg. Good heavy cows made from 128¢ to 145¢ with a large number 5¢ cheaper at 134¢/kg. Heavy bulls made to 152¢ to average 137¢/kg.

New South Wales

Young cattle spark rise in throughput

Total yardings at MLA’s NLRS reported saleyards jumped 8%. The larger yarding was heavily encouraged by a 26% and 28% influx of numbers at Inverell and Gunnedah respectively. With throughput easing the previous week due to weekend rain coinciding with the rising prices, producers have been encouraged to offload cattle as cooler temperatures become more apparent. The deteriorating season in Goulbourn also initiated further throughput with a 35% increase.

With winter approaching, young cattle made up the majority of yardings with a seasonal influx of throughput. Yearling steers to physical markets increased 26% as feeders and restockers captured 20% and 33% more respectively than the previous week.

Contradicting the larger yardings was a 30% drop in grown steers offered. Steers purchased by feeders dropped by more than half whilst those to processors slipped 20%. Similar numbers of cows were yarded; whilst less went to restockers and dairy, processors captured a larger share.

Prices received for young cattle improved across the board, influenced by strong restocker and feeder competition. The added luxury of good pastures in central and northern NSW and Queensland, sparked restocker action to encourage the NSW yearling steer indicator 3¢ – to 171¢/kg.

Grown cattle however have gone against the recent trend with rates falling across the majority of markets. The rise in the A$ and less pressure on buyers to secure supply than in previous weeks were the underlying factors contributing to the cheaper trend as the NSW Japan ox indicator dropped 4¢ to 162¢/kg.

Prices ease for grown cattle

Medium weight C2 vealer steers sold to 176¢ to average 168.7¢ whilst those to restockers ranged from 158¢ to a top of 232¢/kg. Lightweight C2 vealer heifers averaged 167.4¢ whilst the medium weights ranged from 149.2¢ to 182.2¢ to average 167.7¢/kg. The C3 vealer heifers improved 6c to average 184¢ with sales to 200¢/kg. Lightweight C2 yearling steers to restockers ranged from 151¢ to 190¢ whilst medium weights topped at 194¢ to average 176¢/kg. Medium weights to feeders improved 2¢ to average close to 169¢/kg. Lightweight C2 yearling heifers to feeders ranged from 130¢ to 167.2¢ to average 151.8¢/kg. Heavyweights to slaughter improved 2¢ after selling to a top of 190¢ to average 159¢/kg.

Medium weight C3 grown steers to slaughter lost 6¢ to after making to 172¢ to average close to 151¢/kg. Heavyweight C muscles to slaughter ranged from 138¢ to 176¢ to average close to 6¢/kg cheaper. Well conditioned C muscled bullocks topped at 168¢ to average 6¢/kg cheaper. Medium weight C3 grown heifers ranged from 123.2¢ to 165.8¢ to average 146.7¢/kg. Medium weight D2 cows lost 5¢ to average 112¢/kg. Well conditioned heavyweights ranged from 112¢ to 142¢ to finish close to 3¢/kg cheaper.

South Australia

Numbers decline

The SA LE yard fell substantially after their virtual double sale the previous Monday, while Naracoorte also recorded reduced numbers. Mt. Gambier’s similar numbered yarding had some agents stating that numbers are definitely on the decline in that region. After last week’s dearer trend on Millicent’s magnificent bean finished yearlings there was an increase sized yarding.

The SA LE’s quality was quite mixed, and also featured 110 lightweight pastoral bred steers and heifers that were sold on a dollar per head basis. The usual buyers were operating as all categories sold to strong competition at generally dearer levels. Feeder orders from the Mid North and Adelaide Plains were keen to source good numbers of suitable cattle, as a shortage of stock to feed on may come sooner than later. Small numbers of vealers were keenly sourced by local butchers and wholesalers. The majority of the yarding consisted of yearling steers and heifers that sold to a mixture of orders. Cow prices improved on small runs despite the varying quality available.

Naracoorte’s yarding attracted a generally dearer trend, and featured some excellent quality supplementary fed yearlings with magnificent supplementary fed yearlings creating the strongest competition. Feeder and restocker orders were very active and sourced a wide range of weights.

Mt Gambier’s quality was quite mixed and tended to sell to an erratically priced sale, even though most categories tended to attract a dearer trend.

Millicent’s increased numbered yarding again featured bean finished yearlings that attracted spirited bidding from Victorian wholesalers.

Generally dearer trends

< align="justify"> The trade sourced most vealers steers at rates between 172¢ and 211¢, with isolated sales rising to 231¢/kg at the SA LE, as most sales lifted 2¢ to 6¢/kg. Feeder and restocker orders secured the balance mainly between 166¢ and 202¢ at rates 4¢ to 20¢/kg more. Vealer heifer sales were generally 1¢ to 11¢ dearer as most sold to trade and feeder activity between 145¢ and 196¢, with once again isolated sales reaching 226¢/kg. Most heavy yearling steers finished with the trade at rates 1¢ to 12¢ dearer, and mainly between 155¢ and 194¢/kg. Feeder and restocker orders secured most light and medium weights from 142¢ to 183¢, also at dearer levels. The pastoral steers tended to sell between 126¢ and 156¢/kg. Yearling heifers were 4¢ to 11¢ dearer to a mixture of orders, as they sold mainly between 146¢ and 189¢/kg.

Grown steer sales varied 1¢ to 4¢ either side of unchanged, with C3 and C4 sales mainly between 155¢ and 172¢ and averaging 295¢/kg cwt. Cow prices were generally 1¢ to 5¢ dearer as most carcase weight prices ranged between 250¢ and 275¢, with most 3 to 5 score beef cows selling between 122¢ and 142¢/kg.



Yardings up

The two Wednesday markets of Warrnambool and Wodonga were the only sales where supply fell. All other sales offered increased numbers of both young and grown cattle with Gippsland markets lifting significantly. Overall the increase was 10%.

Even though there was this lift in supply, competition did not falter, and was stronger for some classes of cattle. Part of this was due to lot feeders seeking supplies to be finished during winter, as processor and butcher demand was very solid also. Having to compete against feeders for cattle did factor into some price increases.

Grown cattle and in particular cows accounted for 53% of the total yarding with grown steers and bullocks representing 15% of the grown cattle yarding.

While most quotes were firm to dearer, some plainer quality being offered at most sales led to lower price averages, which in turn affected the EYCI. Causing some of the higher quotes was strong competition for several larger lines of vealers and yearlings at Pakenham where prices were much stronger for Charolais and Angus cattle. Good quality and strong demand for bullocks and cows led to some good to very good sales however, a larger run of lean cows resulted in some cow prices being lower.

The EYCI for the close of trade on Thursday evening was 2¢ below last week at 318.25¢/kg cwt. Most of the fall was due in part to slipping quality with any cattle not meeting exact buyer specifications being difficult to sell at times. This trend was also witnessed across the other eastern states.

Good quality in demand

As East Gippsland has just commenced its vealer season, the larger numbers here created some of the best prices, along with Pakenham. These high yielding B muscle vealers made from 190¢ to 227¢, and some sales of supplementary fed yearlings made to 218¢/kg. The run of Charolais vealers, both heifers and steers, at Pakenham went to feeders and restockers from 188¢ to 207.6¢/kg. Most cattle purchased by lot feeders made between 145¢ and 183¢/kg. Across the state most of the better C muscle vealers made 160¢ to 190¢ with isolated sales to 200¢/kg. Interestingly there had been a very good number of quality yearling steers and heifers sold with demand generally stronger at all sales. Good quality C muscle yearling steers made between 165¢ and 195¢/kg with some sales to the trade to 206¢ as heifers made from 135¢ to 185¢/kg.

Grown steer and bullock prices averaged unchanged at 162¢ for C muscle grades with most sales being from 158¢ to 170¢/kg. Demand for cows varied depending on the quality, despite the larger supply. Better quality cows made to 147¢, and averaged 128.5¢/kg. A large percentage of the yardings were plain condition cows that made from 85¢ to 128¢, as the medium weight D3s averaged 123.8¢/kg.

West Australia

Live export activity

There was some thunderstorm activity recorded in the far north, but generally the end of the wet season has already been signalled. Feed conditions throughout the majority of the tropical north are very favourable following on from an improved season compared to the previous year.

A tightening of supply of suitable cattle in the southern agricultural districts has resulted in some live exporters head north early this year with the first boatload of the season being loaded towards the end of this week. This will obviously instigate further and increasing live export activity throughout the north as mustering activity continues. Further to the south the majority of the state remained fine and dry with temperatures continuing and warm to hot levels. Paddock feed supplies continue to diminish with supplementary feeding now a necessity.

Cattle numbers fell by approximately 15% as Midland had considerably smaller numbers penned. This was also despite larger volumes at both the Great Southern sales. The vast majority of cattle continue to be sourced from local agricultural regions with pastoral supplies remaining very limited. Heavy weight steer and bullock supplies were sold in continued limited numbers as has been the case since the end of spring. Heavy weight heifer volumes were also tight, while trade weight yearling steer and heifer volumes were recorded at reasonable levels.

Cow numbers showed a slight increase at both yards, while young store grades of cattle remained the largest classes to be sold irrespective of the market with quality continuing to be very mixed.

Cow and bull values buoyant

The vast majority of vealers remained in store condition and of light and medium weight. Having said this however there were slightly larger supplies of heavy weights available in the Great Southern. Trade competition irrespective of weight was very limited and extremely selective, but given the overall quality of vealers at this time of year this is not surprising. The store market although remaining reasonably stable with rates for both steers and heifers just firm with more selective feeder demand realised and conservative restocker demand on lightweight steers and heifers recorded. As has been the case in recent weights there was an increase in the volume of feeder demand and activity recorded on trade weight yearling steers. The market recorded dearer rates with rates dearer 5¢ to 8¢/kg. Trade weight yearling heifers on the other hand just failed to maintain the higher levels that were realised the previous week.

Heavy weight steer rates realised marginal falls in their values under a weaker trade interest with heavy weight grown heifer sales unchanged. The cow market was again well supported by the processors with further marginal increases in value realised with the heavy bull market enjoying increased competition.

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