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MLA: Weekly Cattle Summary

17 February 2014
Meat & Livestock Australia

AUSTRALIA - The following report is a collection of market summaries from the previous week across Australia's territories from analysts at Meat and Livestock Australia (MLA).

Western Australia

Further rain in the north as south remains dry

There has been very high rainfall levels recorded throughout much of the far north in the Kimberley and Pilbara regions with several tropical lows crossing these areas, write MLA experts. These also brought good falls to much of the interior and eastern pastoral areas with some rivers flooding recorded in eastern Murchison and Gascoyne regions. The majority of the southern agricultural districts remained dry despite some further isolated thunderstorm activity in the southern and eastern parts. Feed levels remain reasonable with quality also moderate given that there has been little or no rainfall seen for the majority of the summer period.

Throughput drops slightly

Cattle numbers were more moderate in physical sales this week as we near the end of the weaner turnoff period, as well as the end of the majority of grass finished drafts. Muchea’s numbers remained buoyant as were those in the southwest and the Great Southern, despite both of the latter seeing falls comparative to the previous week. The majority of Muchea’s yarding was sourced from local agricultural districts with only limited numbers of pastoral and ex-pastoral cattle penned. The supplies of prime trade and heavy weight steers and heifers remained tight, while weaner volumes were fair.

Demand for cows increase assisting price

The recent spike and strong demand for cows saw good supplies offered into all three weekly yardings. Demand from the processing sector for prime heavy weight steers, bullocks and mature heifers remained very strong with slight price gains again recorded throughout the week. This was also the case in trade weight yearling classes.

There was a further reduction in the quality and overall weight of weaners this week as would be expected as we near the end of the annual turnoff. Demand for steers remained high, while the plainer quality seen in heifer classes failed to maintain the same demand levels as seen the previous week. Demand for all classes of cows was again higher as the processing sector competes for numbers.

South Australia

Overall supply lifts

Cattle supply in SA increased 13 per cent week-on-week, yarding 4,183 head. Mount Gambier lifted 38 per cent to 2,194 head and the SA Livestock Exchange was up 18 per cent to total 412 head. Millicent’s numbers eased 8 per cent to pen 359 head, while Naracoorte’s throughput was 10 per cent lower at 1,218 head.

Vealers in good condition

The SA Livestock Exchange penned better quality cattle and sold to stronger competition, particularly on lightweight categories where feeder and restocker buyers were very active, write MLA analysts.

Naracoorte reportedly consigned another mixed quality offering, with overall prices for young cattle slipping, although the best quality remained unchanged to slightly dearer, especially in the vealer portion. Mount Gambier penned a very good selection of grown steers that sold to solid processor demand, while quality at Millicent was reasonably similar to the previous week, with higher restocker interest on well-bred cattle.

Prices ease as supply increases

There was a decline in price for vealer lines, while grown cattle also recorded easing trends as processors remained selective across most markets. Heavy C3 vealer steers were back 7¢ on 174¢, while the equivalent heifer portions averaged 159¢ selling from 132¢ to 212¢, back 8¢/kg lwt week-on-week. Heavy C3 yearling steers gained 4¢ averaging 162¢, while heavy C3 yearling heifers lifted 6¢ making 194¢, averaging 151¢/kg lwt. Heavy C3 grown steers made 178¢, back 5¢ to average 163¢, while heavy D3 beef cows eased 1¢ and finished on 120¢/kg lwt.


Numbers jump with increased numbers of cows offloaded

The supply of stock at physical markets covered by MLA’s NLRS lifted by 17 per cent as the dry weather continues to worsen across most of the supply areas. Numbers at the Toowoomba markets also increased, as no sales in southern border districts boosted supply.

The overall quality of the young cattle is deteriorating as feed and water supplies diminish. A limited supply of heavy grown steers and bullocks was penned, however as the drought worsens producers are offloading large numbers of cows, with cows representing 76 per cent of the grown cattle penned.

The usual panel of export and feeder buyers were present and operating very selectively and demand was subdued across all categories. Restockers displayed support in some markets, however generally competition from restockers was very limited.

Yearling demand declines as quality wanes

The supply of young cattle generally exceeded demand and prices eased accordingly, with most 10¢ to 12¢ cheaper, while secondary lines fell by 20¢ to 30¢/kg. Calves to restockers averaged in a range from 124¢ to 133¢/kg. The occasional vealer steer made to 220¢, with the remainder around 146¢/kg. Vealer heifers to the trade lost 9¢ to average 133¢/kg.

Lightweight yearling steers to feed and restock averaged 5¢ to 7¢ cheaper, with most in the mid160¢/kg range. Medium weight C2’s to feed averaged 156¢, while the better C3’s made to 178¢/kg. The large supply of heavyweight suited to feed eased average prices by 3¢ to 168¢, with sales to 175¢/kg. The best of the lightweight yearling heifers managed to make to 163¢, while secondary lines attracted little support, with large numbers in the 90¢/kg range.

Grown cattle receive reduced process demand

The short supply of heavy grown steers averaged 4¢ less at 174¢ and sold to 184¢/kg. The relatively small selection of bullocks made to 186¢ to average 3¢ cheaper at 176¢/kg. Despite some interest from restockers, lightweight plain cows averaged 11¢ cheaper at 73¢/kg. Median weight 2 scores to processors lost 6¢ to average 97¢/kg. Good heavy cows sold to a market 3¢ cheaper at 139¢ with sales to 155¢/kg.

New South Wales

Numbers remain high

As dry hot conditions continue around the greater part of the state, consignments lifted 9 per cent week-on-week at MLA’s NLRS reported markets. Wagga and Forbes commenced the week to yard 16 per cent and 32 per cent extra cattle, respectively. Tamworth continues to increase its numbers for 3,828 offered, as CTLX Carcoar penned record prime sale consignments to market 5,080 head.

Gunnedah lifted 19 per cent , as Casino nearly doubled its yarding week-on-week. The Hunter sales trended much the same in numbers, as Scone sold 2,106, in total, compared to Singleton which sold 680 head. The northern sale at Armidale continues to yard large numbers, however consignments failed to reach the expected total, as producers withheld stock with rainfall forecast later in the week. Dubbo defied the trend, with the expected rainfall again contributing to only 3,065 penned.

Quality remains mixed

On average, markets reported mainly mixed quality offerings, while some selling centres penned plainer quality younger cattle. Well finished younger cattle suitable for the trade were limited in supply. Calf numbers continue to be well represented. The younger cattle were well supplied, as 5,035 vealers and 9,500 yearling categories were sold. Heavy grown steers suitable for slaughter were limited in number. Cow consignments increased for a large offering of 7,174, in total. Restockers again kept the bottom price stable for the plainer lightweights.

Prices struggled to remain firm

The continuing large numbers, coupled with the majority of processors reportedly fully booked in advance, ensured most export weighted categories sold at cheaper levels. The younger cattle selling to the lot feeder and processor orders trended dearer at some markets, while others failed to maintain the same prices, however on average sold close enough to firm.

The medium weight yearling steers averaged 161¢, after topping at 186¢/kg. Yearling heifers maintained similar prices; however the plainer lightweights attracted stronger competition. Heavy weight grown steers sold 3¢ either side of firm, as the best younger drafts reached 180¢, with most sales around the 164¢/kg range. Cows struggled in the competition due to weight of numbers and slipped 2¢ to 5¢/kg. The plainer D2 cows averaged 93¢, as the 3 and 4 scores ranged from 84¢ to 134¢/kg. The heavy weight bull’s remained similar in price week-on-week as the best reached 169¢/kg.

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