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 16 December 2011
clock icon 9 minute read
Meat & Livestock Australia

New South Wales

Numbers squeezed

Cattle throughput at the physical markets reported by MLA’s NLRS contracted five per cent, with the rain once again causing havoc with supplies. Cattle numbers have been inconsistent over the past month, with the grain harvest and widespread rainfall disrupting yardings across the state. Heavy rain on the Northern Tablelands caused a large reduction in numbers at both Gunnedah and Inverell. Numbers were firm to slightly higher in other regions as producers happily sold cattle prior to the Christmas break. Only a handful of sales will go ahead next week, with markets later on in the week not selling until the New Year.

With the end up year close by a number of processors competed strongly over all categories of cattle, endeavouring to fulfil orders before the Christmas shutdown. This, combined with the general tightening in numbers caused prices to average dearer at most markets. Direct to works rates were marginally higher, with processors looking to shore up consignments into the New Year. Restockers and feeders were also active on store lines, with the rain further boosting the confidence. Paddock feeder rates held firm, offering prices nearing their limit. This has seen some contributors report that they are resigned to sourcing fewer cattle, at current prices.

Quality was good to excellent as the condition of young cattle continue to reflect the milder summer temperatures and consistent rainfall. With pastures still offering a fair level of nutrition, all categories of cattle have maintained good condition.

Cattle market strong

Vealer steers returning to the paddock sold in greater numbers and prices remained firm, with most of the medium weight drafts selling from 226¢ to 270¢/kg. The better covered vealer steers and heifers to the trade were firm to 5¢ dearer as the C2 lines averaged from 246¢ to 251¢/kg. Large samples of lightweight yearling steers to restock were slightly cheaper on 240¢, while the medium weights averaged 229¢/kg. Heavy yearling steers to processors made around 205¢, and the leaner pens to feeders settled on 212¢/kg. The best heavy yearling heifers to the trade sold at 205¢, while the C3 pens made 196¢/kg. Feeder secured the lion’s share of light pens at 213¢/kg.

Grown steer prices were upbeat, with export processors keen to secure supplies before the break. The lighter pens to feed generally sold at 207¢, while the C3 heavy pens made 195¢/kg. The better quality C4 drafts topped at 213¢ and averaged 203¢, and the few bullocks retuned 196¢/kg or $1,260/head. Medium weight cows were firm to 4¢ dearer, with the D3 section topping at 177¢ and averaging 158¢/kg. The heavy pens were slightly cheaper overall, with the D4 lines mainly selling at 161¢/kg.


Supply holding firm

The week just past was the last full week of livestock markets for 2011. While there is a full week leading up to Christmas, cattle markets will only be held on Monday and Tuesday. As some processors will be closed for the long break and require no cattle, some other processors have been putting supplies away for a few weeks to counter the lack of sales for the next two to three weeks. Despite all of this, there were only 216 extra cattle penned at MLA’s NLRS reported markets. The supply at most markets was equal to smaller with Shepparton and Wodonga being the two sales with most of the increased supply.

Quality was touted to be good to very good and in most cases, female cattle were noted being in prime to over fat condition. This could be said for a lot of the bullocks penned, and there were a number of grown cattle that were quite heavy. While some processors have put cattle away for later, there was stronger demand generally, and most of the young cattle sold at equal to dearer trends. Some sales were as much as 10¢/kg higher. While processors were trying to buy more cattle, feedlot and restocker competition was very strong, and this assisted in the higher prices. Grown cattle were less fortunate, and some lower prices were aided by a lack of competition. While some markets were quoted equal to dearer, the overall averages were equal to 5¢/kg cheaper.

Cattle market stable

While vealer prices were higher making to 249¢, there were a lot more making between 220¢/kg and the top figure. Supplementary fed yearlings made to 239¢, but most of the grass fed steers sold between 185¢ and 210¢, averaging 195¢/kg. Heifer prices were quite mixed most making 162¢ to 195¢ with the best quality to 205¢/kg, and buyers were being more selective of fat cover. The exceptional season is seeing a lot of medium to heavy yearlings sold and the steer portion sold to 202¢, but the heifer pens made 176¢/kg.

Grown steer and bullock prices varied a lot with northern competition lifting prices at Wodonga, and most other markets were equal to cheaper. However, this did see prices even out and prime bullocks made between 172¢ and 196¢ averaging 184¢/kg. Extra heavy, and Friesian bullocks sold from 162¢ to 175¢/kg. Nearly 3,500 cows were recorded by the NLRS, and prices averaged 2¢ to 4¢/kg cheaper. However, it was mostly the heavy and over conditioned beef cows that fell, as the leaner grades sold mostly from 125¢ to 154¢/kg. Beef cows sold mostly from 135¢ to 165¢, and the carcase weight price average was estimated to be 299¢/kg cwt.


Wet weather restricts numbers

A return to rain across the supply area severely reduced numbers at markets early in the week. Combined with some selling centres already closed for the year numbers reduced at physical markets reported by MLA’s NLRS by 20 per cent. Supply at the combined store and prime sale at Roma continued to be restricted by ongoing wet weather, nevertheless a large number of northern Brahman cattle were penned. However, by mid week at Dalby, numbers increased by 21 per cent as some producers elected to offload stock before the annual close down.

Buyer attendance at most markets was generally good, albeit by mid week some buyers were absent however this had no effect on prices. Southern and local processors were keen to secure good numbers of young cattle to cover requirements up to the Christmas break and prices lifted accordingly. A large number of restockers were present and active in the market, and this combined with the continuing strong demand displayed by feeder operators lifted prices on light and medium weight yearling steers and heifers by 5¢ to 10¢/kg. Heavy yearling steers also experienced a dearer trend with stronger support from wholesalers, supermarkets and feeders lifting prices by up to 8¢/kg. Heavy steers and bullocks to export slaughter experienced a dearer trend and this movement in price tended to increase as the week progressed with gains of 4¢ to 5¢/kg. Full mouth bullocks were not penalised and in places sold to within a few cents of the younger categories. The strong export demand also flowed onto all classes of cows with improvements of 4¢ to 6¢/kg fairly common.

Most classes dearer

Calves returning to the paddock made to 272¢ with a fair supply at 246¢/kg. Vealer heifers to slaughter were well supplied and averaged 220¢ with some to local butchers reaching 244.2¢/kg. Lightweight yearling steers made to 260¢ with feeder classes at 243¢, while those returning to the paddock averaged close to 234¢/kg. Medium weight yearling steers to feed mostly sold from 229¢ to 232¢ with the occasional well bred class to 258.2¢/kg. Heavy yearling steers to feed and slaughter averaged 212¢ and 214¢ respectively, with the occasional feeder pen reaching 253.2¢/kg. Lightweight yearling heifers to feed restockers and the trade sold from 220¢ to 232¢ with some to restockers at 246.2¢/kg. Medium weights to the trade averaged up to 14¢ better at 220¢ with sales to 236.2¢/kg.

Heavy steers to export slaughter averaged close to 206¢ and made to 216.4¢/kg. Bullocks averaged 4¢ dearer at 207¢ with sales to 213.6¢, while a few certified grainfeds made to 214.2¢/kg. Full mouth bullocks made to 208.6¢ with a small sample at 201¢/kg. Medium weight 3 score cows averaged 6¢ better at 154¢, while good heavy cows made to 188.6¢ with a large sample 4¢ dearer at close to 177¢/kg.

West Australia

Muchea’s numbers rise sharply

The southern Agricultural districts of WA again saw un-seasonal rainfall from wide spread thunderstorm activity. Areas to the east and south of Perth saw the largest falls with some parts of the Great Southern recording falls up to 135mm. This caused flooding and wide spread damage to fences, crops and pastures. Conditions in the north of the state remain above average with good feed levels still being reported in most areas.

There were increased numbers seen at saleyards, predominately due to a very large supply levels seen at Muchea early in the week. The Great Southern and southwest sales were similar in size to the previous week, while additionally there were several regional vealer and female sales conducted. The first of the annual female sales enjoyed a very strong restocker demand as sale averages were reported at price levels well above the levels seen at these markets last year, as producers endeavour to capitalise on the strong current market levels and restock following the drought of the previous season.

There continued to be reasonable supplies of pastoral cattle forwarded to Muchea this week with solid numbers of steer, cows and bulls recorded. The supply levels of locally bred cattle also remained healthy at all three markets, with reasonable numbers of heavy and trade weight steers and heifers penned. Cow volumes were slightly lower this week, while local vealer numbers remained at buoyant levels. Processor demand was generally more conservative, while restockers and feeders remained active on younger and store lines.

Cow market flattens

The healthy supplies of new season vealers in markets remained of a higher average weight than seen at the same period of the previous year. There continued to be good numbers of medium and heavy weight claves available in saleyards, while lightweight category supplies remained fair. Demand from restockers and feeders increased this week with all classes enjoying higher price levels, while processor and local retailer demand for heavier slaughter grades in excess of 400kg lwt continued at firm and similar levels. Demand from the local processing and retail sectors for grass finished trade weight yearlings continued to constrict with price levels moderately lower than those seen the previous week. This was also the case in heavy weight steers and heifers in both local and pastoral drafts with price levels again marginally lower.

Time of year, current solid supply levels and the onset of the holiday period saw a restriction in trade demand and competition for cows. The market subsequently recorded lower price levels with prime heavy weight classes falling up to 15c/kg lwt on average. This was also the case in heavy weight bull categories with prices also cheaper, while live export interest on lightweights was firm.

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