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 5 June 2009
clock icon 11 minute read
Meat & Livestock Australia

Victoria weekly cattle summary

Lower supplies

There was a reduction in cattle numbers at MLA’s NLRS reported markets, with 6 per cent less yarded across the state. The most notable falls occurred at Ballarat and Pakenham on Monday along with Camperdown on Tuesday, with the larger centres of Bairnsdale in Gippsland and the northern markets of Shepparton and Wodonga tightening supplies. Light rainfall on Monday was preceded by heavier falls as the week progressed which had an influence on yardings, whilst the upcoming long weekend cannot be overlooked as a factor restricting producers from selling. With a fortnight between sales at Ballarat more numbers would have been anticipated, whereas Pakenham will sell young cattle on Tuesday to alleviate the cancellation of the upcoming Monday sale due to the Queen’s Birthday long weekend. Ballarat was in fact the centre which penned the lowest numbers of all reported markets, while Pakenham leapt out in from to be the largest selling centre for the week. Expectations before the sale were that it would be another smaller offering however coupled with the recent colder weather there were more cattle in forward store condition which accounted for a large proportion of the 50 per cent increase at Pakenham.

In the young cattle portion, there remains solid demand from restockers and feeders, along with strong competition from processors for slaughter grades. There were some good quality lines from the Cann River district yarded at Bairnsdale which set most of the top end prices for vealers anywhere in the state. Cow numbers at Western District markets increased with numbers at Camperdown almost doubling with a larger contingent of mixed quality dairy cows bolstering numbers.

Varied trends

Medium weight vealer steers to restockers were close to firm after selling to 190¢ and averaging 172¢/kg. Some very good quality B2 heavy weights topped at 237.6¢/kg. Medium weight vealer heifers to slaughter eased 8¢ to 157¢ as the best of the heavy weight B2s reached 235.2¢/kg. Light and medium weight C2 yearling steers selling to feeder orders were 4¢ to 5¢ dearer and sold generally in the low 170¢/kg range. Heavy weight C3s improved 6¢ to average 180¢ after selling to a top of 210¢/kg. Medium and heavy C3 yearling heifers to slaughter sold to a varied trend with the medium weights 4¢ cheaper at 173¢ while the heavy weights lifted 4¢ to 170¢/kg.

Most of the grown steers were leaner 2 to 3 scores and heavy weights which were 2¢ to 4¢/kg dearer while the bullocks sold to a slightly cheaper trend. Heavy 2 and 3 scores mostly sold from 166c to 170c as the C4 bullocks averaged 168.5¢/kg. Medium weight D2 and D3 beef cows also sold to firm to dearer trend to average 117¢ and 129¢/kg respectively. Heavy beef cows made to 150¢ as the D4s averaged 135¢/kg. Dairy cows though sold to a cheaper trend as the medium weights mostly made from 95¢ to 108¢/kg.

SA weekly cattle summary

Slightly smaller numbers

Numbers retreated only slightly at the SA LE, and contained an excellent quality selection of prime supplementary fed yearlings that attracted strong competition from the usual buying fraternity at generally dearer levels. However, there were some notable absentees in the feeder ranks that allowed those operating to lower their rates for yearling steers and heifers. Only one vealer heifer was offered, while the trade sourced the majority of the yearling steers and the heifer portion at generally dearer levels.

As the A$ surged over the 80¢ mark, it was expected that export categories would attract a weaker trend. This was particularly noticeable at the SA LE where the cow runs were mainly 2¢ to 11¢/kg cheaper. However at Naracoorte Mt. Gambier and Millicent where nearly 1,200 cows were offered, strong South Eastern and Victorian processor competition lifted most sales to dearer levels.

Naracoorte had a similar numbered yarding with mixed quality runs of young cattle, larger numbers of grown heifers, with overall cow quality good. There were increased numbers of supplementary fed yearlings that sold to solid Victorian wholesale competition, with steers slightly cheaper, and the heifers, whether grass or grain finished being around 10¢/kg dearer. While most of the usual buyers were operating, a NSW order struggled to find any heavy cattle of suitable quality for his requirements.

Mt. Gambier’s also yarded a similar sized yarding which sold to strong competition, with only grown steers losing ground on the previous week’s improved prices. Millicent agents yarded 347 cattle for its fortnightly sale.

Varying price trends

Vealer steers to the trade sold from 175¢ to 202¢/kg at unchanged rates. Feeder and restocker orders secured the greatest percentage from 162¢ to 188¢/kg or from 6¢ dearer to 5¢/kg cheaper. Vealer heifer sales to mainly feeder and restocker interests sold from 115¢ to 175¢ due to the wide range of quality offered, with those sales varying from 21¢ cheaper, and up to 18¢kg dearer. Trade purchases were limited and mainly between 152¢ and 185¢/kg at generally lower levels. Yearling steer prices varied a few cents either side of unchanged, with trade purchases from 162¢ to 199¢, while feeder and restocker orders sourced a wide range of quality from 140¢ to 182¢/kg. Yearling heifer sales to the trade were 2¢ to 8¢ dearer, with C3 heifers selling between 165¢ and 195¢/kg. Even D3 sales were dearer ranging from 142¢ to 165¢/kg. Feeders and restockers paid from 126¢ to 174¢/kg.

Grown steer prices were mainly 1¢ to 5¢/kg cheaper, with C3 and C4 sales ranging between 155¢ and 182¢ and averaged 307¢/kg cwt statewide. Most cows were 1¢ to 6¢ dearer as a few more sales rose above 140¢/kg, with carcase weights in a 270¢ to 290¢/kg price range.

WA weekly cattle summary

Reasonable numbers again

The traditional cattle producing areas of the southwest of the state enjoyed further good rainfall and have buoyed conditions despite the lateness of the break this year. The majority of rainfall recorded in the southern districts was predominately restricted to the southern corner of the state and coastal regions with only limited falls realised in eastern parts. Although germinations have now taken place in much of the agricultural districts, pasture growth remains slow as both day and night time temperatures have fallen.

Conditions in the north of the state remain reasonable and conducive to mustering activity with live export still the preferred marketing option and Midland is yet to see any real supplies of cattle forwarded into it from the pastoral regions.

Despite the recent rainfall of the past couple of weeks tight feed conditions remain and this again prompted producers to off load cattle. Total numbers were only slightly lower, but this was due to the cancellation of the southwest’s weekly sale due to the long weekend. Both midland and Mt Barker’s yarding were reasonable despite a drop off in the numbers of lightweight store cattle being recorded at either market.

A combination of time of year and the current strong processor demand for heavy cattle saw increased numbers of both cows and mature heifers in both yardings. Trade and heavy weight steer volumes on the other hand remained constricted with numbers very limited and agents have indicated that this trend will continue until the spring turnoff begins.

Cow market remains strong

Vealer supplies were all but non-existent and again restricted to categories receiving local trade and retailer demand which continued to be healthy. Trade weight yearling supplies were predominately restricted to grass finished drafts with only limited supplies of grain finished drafts available. Trade weight grass finished steer sales remained firm on the very limited supplies with heifer rates slightly dearer than the previous week. Supplementary fed and certified grain finished drafts continue to struggle for demand as the local retail market continues to see healthy volumes of cheaper imported product brought in from the eastern states and this has had a limiting affect on local processor demand. Store quality and weight were again both lower and more mixed. Feeder and restocker demand were both more conservative and selective in both steer and heifer drafts and subsequently lower values were recorded, particularly in lightweight heifer categories.

Heavy weight export steer and bullock rates were unchanged on very limited supplies while mature heavy heifer values were encouraged by an increase in trade demand. Despite the good supplies of cows the market continued to be stimulated by a strong local and export trade demand with this also the case in heavy weight bull categories.

NSW weekly cattle summary

Rainfall tightens supply

Supply across MLA’s NLRS reported saleyards dropped 19 per cent from the previous week following some good rainfall across the state. The majority of all markets witnessed fewer numbers despite Armidale yarding significantly more head. Numbers at Armidale lifted 22 per cent from the previous week which was heavily driven by cooler conditions combined with a shorter coming week. However, rainfall across the majority of the state and the expectation of more to follow restricted supplies at several markets. Evidently Dubbo throughput plummeted 72 per cent along with Gunnedah’s 37 per cent reduction.

Overall quality has continued to be mixed however central and northern NSW tended to yard a greater percentage of finished lines. The dire conditions in southern NSW were reflected by the generally plain quality offerings. While overall yardings in the state tightened, vealer steer throughput remained steady with significantly more purchased by feeders. Yearling steer throughput slumped 18 per cent with a 25 per cent reduction in feeder activity. Grown steer supplies followed in similar fashion with 30 per cent less yarded as feeders and processors both reduced purchases. Of the cow yarding, 25 per cent less were yarded resulting in a 18 per cent fall in processor activity.

As supplies tighten and rainfall sparks buyer activity, NSW cattle indicators all experienced improved values. At the conclusion of Thursday markets, vealer steers improved 4¢ – to 185¢ while yearling steers lifted 5¢ – to 183¢/kg. The Japan ox indicator appreciated 4¢ – to 170¢ and US cow finished 3¢ dearer at 122¢/kg. Also contributing to the dearer trend was the public holiday next week, further tightening supply. As a result feeders and restockers were keen to capture supply with an anticipated shortfall in numbers.

Prices improve

Lightweight D2 vealer steers returning to the paddock averaged 165¢ with sales to 182¢/kg. Medium weight C muscles to similar orders improved 3¢ to range from 152¢ to 195¢/kg. Medium weight C2 vealer heifers to slaughter ranged from 135¢ to 180¢ while those to restockers averaged 162¢ with sales to 182¢/kg. Lightweight C2 yearling steers to restockers improved 8¢ to average 176¢ while heavyweight C3’s to feeders sold close to 173¢ with sales to 188¢/kg. Lightweight C2 feeder heifers improved 3¢ with sales to 172¢ while better conditioned heavyweights to slaughter held firm at 167¢/kg.

Medium weight C3 grown steers to processors ranged from 142¢ to 180¢ while heavyweights improved 4¢ to 161¢ with sales to 174¢/kg. A reasonable supply of well finished bullocks ranged from 148¢ to 178¢ to average close to 159¢/kg. A good run of C3 grown heifers improved 5¢ to average 150¢ with sales to 169¢/kg. Medium weight D2 cows ranged from 82¢ to 126¢ while 3 scores to similar orders sold to 134¢ to average close to 122¢/kg. Heavyweight D3 cows improved 4¢ to range from 115¢ to 144¢ while better finished lines sold to 140¢ to average 2¢ dearer at 130¢/kg.

QLD weekly cattle summary

Young cattle dominate supply

The supply of stock across the state at physical markets covered by MLA’s NLRS has remained virtually unchanged for the last two weeks. Overall quality was not up to the standard of the previous week with larger numbers of poor condition cows, and the calf and vealer sections also contained increased numbers of plain condition lines.

The selling pens continued to be dominated by young cattle, and cows were in the largest numbers in the grown cattle sections. The small number of grown steers penned contained mainly feeder grades in the medium weight range, while slaughter lines of heavy steers and bullocks were in very short supply. Young cattle experienced a mixed trend commencing the week meeting strong demand, however at Warwick a combination of a drop in the standard of lightweight cattle and less restocker demand saw prices for some younger lines cheaper and the drift continued as the week progressed. Yearling grades to feed went against this trend and improved in value for both yearling steers and heifers sharing in the rise in the market.

Cows at sales early in the week good not sustain recent levels and lost 3¢ to 7¢/kg. Nevertheless by midweek the developing rain in the west of the state had a larger impact on the cow market than the high A$ and heavy cows improved in value. With oats crops ready to feed in some districts restockers were very active at Dalby and placed a solid floor in the cow market particularly for the leaner categories. The relatively small number of heavy steers and bullocks to export slaughter did not receive any gains and most sold to a cheaper trend.

Feeder cattle dearer

Calves to the trade lost 2¢ to average 163¢ and sold to 214.2¢, while restocker lines sold to a similar amount to average 180¢/kg. Most of the vealer steers sold to restockers at 180¢, while those purchased by the feeder market averaged 193¢ and sold to 206.2¢/kg. A large sample of vealer heifers sold to feed 3¢ better at 168¢, and a similar number went to the trade 4¢ cheaper at 157¢/kg. Yearling steers to feed improved a further 2¢ to 4¢ with most close to 170¢, some lightweights reaching 179.2¢/kg. Medium weight yearling heifers to feed also improved in value by 3¢ to average close to 158¢ with sales to 168¢/kg. Medium weight slaughter lines averaged 1¢ less at 154¢, yet the heavy lines improved 4¢ to average 157¢/kg.

Medium weight grown steers to feed were the only bright spot in the grown steer section to be 3¢ dearer at 165¢ with sales to 174.2¢/kg. Heavy steers to slaughter averaged 1¢ cheaper at close to 159¢ with some to 169¢, while the bullock portion lost 5¢ to average 153¢/kg. Cows to restockers lifted in value by 12¢ to average 120¢ with sales to 135¢/kg. Good heavy cows across all markets improved 3¢ to average 135¢ with a few reaching 143.2¢/kg.

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