Weekly Cattle Summary

AUSTRALIA - This report is a collection of weekly cattle price summaries from each Australian state by the Meat & Livestock Australia (MLA).
calendar icon 5 August 2011
clock icon 11 minute read
Meat & Livestock Australia

QLD weekly cattle summary

Numbers decline

Apart from some of the smaller selling centres early in the week experiencing small increases, supply across the state at physical markets covered by MLA's NLRS generally declined. The larger selling centres suffered the biggest reductions with the Roma store and prime sale down 26 per cent and 35 per cent respectively while numbers fell at Dalby by 13 per cent.

Similar to recent weeks a full panel of export buyers was present at most markets however not all were operating. Buyer representation on young cattle was very good with southern processors and local operators active across all lightweight lines. The extra demand from processors combined with stronger restocker activity lifted calves, vealers and lightweight yearlings six cents and up to 12¢/kg.

The small selection of heavy vealers and medium weight yearlings suitable for the local butcher trade also received a lift of seven to eight cents/kg. Feeder grades generally sold to a strong market with adjustments either side of firm according to quality.

Export slaughter grades of heavy steers and bullocks experienced a mixed trend as the week progressed. Despite not all the usual export buyers operating, values at early week markets still maintained last weeks levels. Nevertheless by mid week values tended to struggle at times with only the improved quality at Dalby assisting values to remain firm, and by late week markets prices for bullocks eased.

Demand for cows was very strong and prices improved in some centres. However by late week markets buyer activity was more reserved and prices eased two to four cents/kg.

Vealer heifers in demand

Calves to restockers made to 240.2¢ with most around 214¢, while trade descriptions made to an isolated 255¢ to average 202¢/kg. Vealer steers returning to the paddock made 240¢ to average six cents better at 226¢/kg.

Despite a large number of vealer heifers penned processors lifted values with most around 207¢, and heavy lines to butchers made to 244.2¢/kg. A large line-up of lightweight yearling steers sold to restockers six cents dearer at 216¢ with well bred grades to 237.2¢/kg.

Medium weight yearling steers meeting supermarket feeder specifications made 217.2¢ with most in the high 180¢ to mid 190¢/kg range. Heavy feeders experienced no change in value at 177¢/kg. Medium weight yearling heifers to feed averaged 182¢ and trade descriptions made to a top of 225¢/kg.

Heavy steers to export slaughter averaged one cent less at 172¢, while a good selection of bullocks lost a similar amount to average 168¢ with a few to 178¢/kg. Medium weight two score cows averaged 117¢, and three scores 131¢/kg. Heavy cows averaged 147¢ with pen lots making to157.6¢/kg. Local and southern processors showed strong enthusiasm on heavy bulls and prices made over 170¢ on a number of occasions.

VIC weekly cattle summary

Varied quality

Overall, there were fewer cattle penned across the states as supply fell 12 per cent at markets reported by MLA's NLRS. This encompassed all classes of cattle, and the lower numbers ensured young cattle that sold to the strongest competition.

Numbers were firm in the north, with strong yardings at Shepparton and Wodonga. Levels were generally stable elsewhere, with typical sized winter yardings reported. Supply was nine per cent lower in comparison the corresponding week last year.

Even though demand improved for young cattle, prices still varied greatly across markets. The quality of the vealers and both supplementary fed and grass finished yearlings was good. Price differences were as much as 20¢/kg for similar cattle at individual centres.

Overall, young cattle prices were mostly firm to eight c/kg dearer. The Eastern Young Cattle Indicator (EYCI), which is derived from specific markets reported by MLA's NLRS across eastern seaboard, and uses prices for C muscle two and three score vealers and yearlings, recovered 10.50¢ for the week, to close at 381¢/kg cwt.

Grown cattle prices varied with grown steers and bullocks mainly lifted three cents to four cents /kg, with the limited numbers increasing competition. Quality was mixed with the plainer quality becoming harder to sell at times, while there were some very good quality bullocks offered.

Better quality beef cows sold to a dearer trend, but across all cow categories prices were mostly unchanged. Buyers discounted the poor quality cows, particularly the lightweights. The carcass weight price average was similar, estimated to average 293¢/kg cwt for both beef and dairy cows.

Prices lift

The lighter vealer steers and heifers returning to the paddock topped at 239¢ and mostly sold at 224¢/kg. A large number of C muscle vealers to the trade ranged from 220¢ and 255¢, while better yielding B muscle lines averaged 251¢/kg. As quality varied a number of secondary vealers made between 180¢ and 215¢/kg, with mainly feedlots being very active on these.

The better quality heavy vealer heifers to the trade topped at 274¢, as the majority of pens made closer to 237¢/kg. Yearlings sold well with most steers making between 178¢ and 220¢/kg. The better quality heifers sold from 175¢ to 210¢, and the leaner types to restockers generally settled on 207¢/kg. There was a run of supplementary fed yearlings that ranged from 245¢ to 270¢/kg at Pakenham.

Just under 1,000 grown steers and bullocks were offered and most drafts were in good condition. The lighter pens were 5¢ dearer on 191¢, while heavy grown steers gained four cents to 187.5¢/kg. The few bullocks averaged 184¢ or $1,197/head. Larger framed dairy cows made mostly between 127¢ and 154¢, while the heavy beef cows made anywhere between 157¢ and 167¢/kg.

SA weekly cattle summary

Increased yardings

There have been erratic prices paid on increased yardings despite the return of a processor after their four week annual maintenance break.

The SA LE's numbers increased for quite good quality runs of young cattle. The regular local and interstate trade and processor buyers were operating albeit at fluctuating demand. Feeder orders were active on mainly yearling steers and heifers. There were also lines of pastoral bred yearlings, grown steers and heifers, manufacturing steers and lightweight bulls.

There was an increase at Naracoorte as mixed quality runs sold erratically to the usual interstate buyers albeit lacking any NSW input and welcoming back a local processor. The erratic trend was also created by lines of pastoral bred cattle with many in two score condition, some grown heifers and cows that had been HGP treated.

There were lines of beef cows in varying condition that had been pregnancy tested in calf. While there were isolated sales for young cattle that were dearer and mainly due to some buyers making "picks", other sales were cheaper. However, cows attracted improved prices.

Mt. Gambier's mixed quality larger yarding attracted an erratic sale that was mainly due to the varying quality offered.

Millicent put together 332 head for there monthly sale with prime vealer steers and cows selling to dearer levels. The other categories lost ground on the previous monthly sale due to the mixed quality offered.

Fluctuating trends

It was a week of fluctuating trends with the varying quality not helping while an extra processor order provided renewed competition. Vealer steers to the trade on limited numbers sold from 196¢ to 268¢ with B muscled sales dearer and the C muscled unchanged to two cents/kg cheaper.

Feeder and restocker orders sourced C1 and C2 mainly lightweight steers from 186¢ to 232¢ or generally two cents/kg less.

Vealer heifers to the trade sold from 190¢ to 250¢ at prices unchanged to three cents cheaper, with lightweight C2s 10¢/kg dearer. Yearling steer C3 and C4 sales were between 169¢ and 219¢, with B-muscled heavyweights 200¢ to 243¢/kg. This led to medium weights being five cents to nine cents cheaper and the heavy C3 sales three cents/kg dearer.

Yearling heifer C3 and C4 medium and heavyweights sold from 165¢ to 214¢ with the medium weights 11¢ cheaper, and the heavy heifers three to four cents/kg dearer.

Grown steer C3 and C4 medium and heavyweights generally sold from 175¢ to 198¢ at prices two to six cents cheaper, with most 320¢ to 354¢/kg cwt. The medium and heavy D3 to C6 beef cows were two to seven dearer, as most sold from 136¢ to 161¢ or 275¢ to 310¢/kg cwt.

WA weekly cattle summary

Solid rain across the south

Good wide spread rain was received during the past seven days in the south of the state with the agricultural regions recording their highest rain levels for the year. Many falls in western districts exceeded 70mm with most eastern districts recording around 20mm. Forecasters have predicted that there will be light shower activity across the weekend and into the early parts of next week, but nothing like what was received recently.

Feed levels remain reasonable and should now increase after the recent rises to moisture levels. The north of the state continues to enjoy a solid feed year, but with only limited numbers being exported live consternation remains.

Cattle supplies from local agricultural regions remain tight and subsequently the Mt Barker sales remain on a two week roster. The return of this sale coupled with larger numbers at Muchea resulted in total yardings increased, but despite this Mt Barker was again only very small.

Pastoral cattle supplies once again dominated Muchea with good volumes of cows, steers and bulls penned. Local trade and heavy weight steer and heifer supplies remained very tight with only moderate volumes of young local stores and cows available. The quality of cattle sourced from the pastoral north remained good, while cattle from local areas were again mixed quality and weight, which would not be unexpected at this time of year.

Agents continue to comment that they don not expect an increase in either local cattle numbers or quality until at least mid September.

Heavy cattle ease

Although marginally larger the numbers of new season vealers remained limited. There was little or no change in the demand from local retailers and wholesalers, while restocker competition continued to be buoyant. There were fewer supplies of supplementary fed yearlings.

Trade demand increased on the lower supplies with prices generally 10¢ to 15¢/kg dearer as heavy yearling steers reached 250¢/kg. The very strong demand in recent weeks from both the feeder and restocker sectors continued on young local store grades with very strong pricing levels again recorded for both heifers and steers.

The improved supplies of prime pastoral heavy weight steers and bullocks recorded a considerably weaker trade and restocker demand that resulted in price falls of up to 20¢/kg. Heavy grown heifer prices were also lower under the more subdued processor demand.

This was also evident in the cow market where once again good supplies of pastoral grades were yarded. The prices for both prime local and pastoral cows fell between eight cents and 10¢/kg with most sales averaging 127¢/kg. Heavy bull demand on the other hand remained relatively static with little change in the market.

NSW weekly cattle summary

Cattle supply picks up

Cattle yardings at markets as reported by MLA's NLRS increased 17 per cent, as the majority of selling centres produced more numbers. The boost in numbers also meant supply was around 11 per cent higher in comparison to the same week last year. The increased numbers was chiefly down to the dry conditions that have been experienced by many districts over the past month.

The declining season has encouraged producers in the North West and Western regions to lift yearling cattle supplies 46%. With most cattle still in reasonable condition having been supplementary fed or crop finished, producers have sold some drafts early before condition wanes. This may only be precautionary, with moderate rain forecast for much of the state over the coming days.

Gunnedah was prime example of this as throughput was 21 per cent higher, while Dubbo agents penned 25 per cent more cattle. Even though yearling numbers increased, the quality of yardings was generally maintained. The influx in yearling steer drafts was due to a higher proportion of heavyweight lines offered, while the clear majority of yearling heifers were over 330kg lwt. Grown cattle numbers were stable with several markets reporting large runs of top quality grown steers, while the cow supplies continue to carry good weight.

Even though numbers were higher, demand in the physical markets was strong as all buying sectors competed to secure lines. Extra competition was provided by interstate processors, while Southern feeder orders were strong on suitable lines. Export processor demand was stable, with good competition recorded on the small line up.

Competition drives market

Light vealer steers suitable to restockers and backgrounders dropped six cents overall to 213¢/kg. The section to the trade were of good quality and this contributed to prices gained 14¢ to 215¢/kg. Vealer heifers returning to the paddock topped at 217¢ and the pens to the trade were dearer on 210¢/kg. The lighter end of the yearling steers to restock were five cents cheaper on 210¢, while the pens to domestic feeders remained firm on 207¢/kg.

The C2 medium weights to feeders were also firm, settling on 202¢ and the C3 section to slaughter settled on 214¢/kg. A large volume of heavy C3 steers to the trade topped at 242¢ and finished six cents dearer on 198¢/kg. Light yearling heifers to restock and feed ranged from 190¢ to 194¢ and the better conditioned medium weights to the trade gained seven cents to 209¢/kg.

Light grown steers to export feeders were seven cents cheaper on 172¢ and the medium weight pens to slaughter topped at 181¢ and averaged five cents lower on 171¢/kg. The large run of top quality heavy grown steers held firm on 179.5¢, and the few bullocks mostly made 177¢/kg. The leaner medium weight cows sold at 130¢, and the better quality heavy D4 lines were stable on 149¢/kg.

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