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MLA: Weekly Cattle Summary

09 May 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).


Buyers selective on plain lines

Overall supply at physical markets covered by MLA’s NLRS remained relatively high at 18,700 head, says Meat and Livestock Australia's team of market analysts.

The first frosts on the ground in low-lying areas resulted in a small increase in numbers at Dalby, while supply at most other selling centres was slightly lower.

MLA added that overall quality at most markets was not up to the previous weeks standard, with increased numbers of plainer classes included in the line-up, and buyers operated selectively and demand was softer across most categories. Export buyer attendance and activity was erratic and at some markets all were present and not operating, while other centres some buyers were absent from the buying panel. This trend was also evident in the young cattle section with not all the usual processor buyers present and operating and there were only a limited number of restockers present.

Prices ease as demand was subdued

Well-bred calves and vealer steers to feed and restockers met strong demand, however a small drop in the standard saw average prices ease. The colder weather resulted in an increased number of calves and most sold around 168¢, with some to 208.2¢/kg.

Vealer steers to feed and restockers mostly sold in the high 180¢ to early 190¢/kg range, with sales to 211.2¢/kg. Vealer heifers to local and southern processors could not maintain the previous week’s prices and lost 14¢, to average 141¢, while a selected few top quality lines to local butchers reached 215.2¢/kg.

A large sample of lightweight yearling steers returned to the paddock 3¢ cheaper at 196¢ with a very occasional sale to 223.2¢/kg. A large number of medium weight feeders averaged 4¢ to 6¢ cheaper with most in a range from 177¢ to 183¢/kg. Heavyweights also were well supplied and averaged 3¢ less at 182¢, with some well-bred lines to 198.2¢/kg. Lightweight yearling heifers lost 10¢ to 14¢, to average in the 130¢/kg range.

Export cattle struggle to hold

Bullocks made to the occasional 190.2¢ with most 2¢ cheaper at 180¢/kg. Medium weight plain cows averaged 7¢ cheaper at 91¢ and a large number of 2 scores averaged 111¢/kg. A relatively large sample of good heavy cows averaged 4¢ cheaper at 144¢, with some to 159.2¢/kg.

Western Australia

Solid May rainfall sparks hope

Season conditions across much of WA gained great advantage from several strong fronts over the past week. Rainfall was recorded from the far north to the south coast and throughout eastern Wheatbelt and pastoral regions.

Falls in the Kimberley, Pilbara and Gascoyne were all solid, bringing drought relief to many of these areas, while strengthening already solid conditions in others. The southern agricultural districts of WA enjoyed very strong rainfall from several fronts that has brought an end to what was an almost record dry summer and autumn period.

The solid moisture levels recorded in the south over the past couple of weeks has seen very strong germination in pastures, with soil temperatures remaining warm. Forecasts have predicted that there is the possibility of further rainfall across the weekend and into early parts of the next week with most of this confined to the southwest corner.

Despite this, feed supplies in traditional cattle areas remain low and subsequently supplementary feeding continues to be a major task for producers at this time.

Processor and live export demand robust

Total weekly physical saleyard numbers were similar this week due to an increase in Muchea’s numbers, with this yarding bolstered by cattle sourced from pastoral regions. The other two weekly sales had moderate numbers, but whether these will be sustained in the near future given the recent rainfall is uncertain.

Demand from the processing sector for slaughter cattle remains high on the back of tight supply levels, with competition for cattle out of the Kimberley high as southern processors compete not only against each other, but also with strong live export demand.

Prices for the tight supplies of prime local cattle of all weight ranges remained solid this week, under continued strong local, export processor and retailer demand. It must be noted that there was a decline in cow price from their very high levels for the first time in many weeks.


Consignments lift marginally

Numbers varied at saleyards this week, although overall Victorian throughput increased 4 per cent week-on-week, totalling 19,481 head. The major contributor to the increase was a Pakenham, with consignments up 45 per cent to yard 3,922head, while Shepparton and Wodonga lifted 10 per cent and 12 per cent, totalling 2,800 and 3,800 head, respectively.

There were fewer grown steers offered at Warrnambool, pushing numbers back 24 per cent to 1,400, while Leongatha slipped 11 per cent, totalling 3,210 head.

Buyers remain selective on finished lines

Although there have been several frosts recorded in some parts of the state, the quality of the cattle are yet to deteriorate significantly. Supplementary fed lines are still in good numbers and selling strongly through Wodonga and Leongatha, although not to the levels of the previous week. Demand was subdued across the majority of categories, although restockers were quite active at Shepparton and Leongatha. Processors operated selectively as most continue to suggest they have ample supply moving forward.

Prices trend downward as demand eases

Prices were generally cheaper across all categories, predominately due to the lack of processors interest, coupled with a slip in quality.

Heavy C3 vealer steers topped at 225¢ to average 211¢, while their heifer equivalents finished unchanged on last week, averaging 211¢/kg. Heavy yearling steers to feed ranged from 154¢ to 212¢, back 14¢ on last week, while heavy heifers to process averaged 9¢ cheaper making 187¢/kg.

The 600 to 750kg C3 and 4 score bullocks slipped just over 10¢ week-on-week, averaging 191¢ and 195¢/kg, respectively. Heavy D3 manufacturing steers averaged 174¢, back 14¢, while medium weight D1 dairy cows topped at 122¢ to average 110¢/kg. Heavy D1 dairy cows eased 10 on last week making 120¢, while D3 and 4 score heavy weight cows ranged from 125¢ to 165¢, back 8¢to 10¢/kg.

New South Wales

Consignments ease

Overall consignments slipped by 5 per cent for a total of 27,565 cattle offered at MLA’s NLRS reported markets this week. Wagga defied the lower trends to lift its supply by 8 per cent, however numbers did fall short of the expected draw.

Tamworth penned 2,352 head, a reduction of 11 per cent week-on-week, while Forbes lost 19 per cent, totalling 1,761 head. CTLX slipped 16 per cent and penned 3,005 cattle, as Gunnedah eased 9 per cent for a total of 2,340 head. The Hunter markets at Scone and Singleton both yarded substantial consignments, as Scone penned similar numbers for 1,580 head in total, compared to Singletons increased offering of 1,410 cattle. The northern markets of Casino, Armidale and Inverell all penned similar sized yardings to the previous week. Dubbo slipped 11 per cent to pen 3,520 head in total.

Quality remains mixed

Markets continue to report mixed quality cattle, as percentages of prime conditioned lots are also being offered. The younger steers were similar week-on-week to total 7,582 head, while younger heifers totalled 6,604 head, marginally fewer compared to the previous week. Heavy weight grown steers suitable for slaughter lifted in number for 970 head offered. Cow numbers were back by 23 per cent for a total of 5,287 penned.

Prices continue to trend lower

The younger vealer steers weighing over 200kg and returning to the paddock lost 15¢ to average 179¢, as the best reached 221¢/kg. The same weighted heifer portion to the processors trended lower by 20¢ and topped at 172¢, averaging 143¢/kg.

Heavy weight prime conditioned vealers to the butchers reached 228¢/kg. Yearling steers to the lot feeders averaged 5¢ cheaper, however the popular breeds still reached 224¢/kg. Yearling heifers found the competition weaker overall as prices declined 4¢ to 10¢/kg and more in places.

Heavy weight grown steers and heifers sold to the processors also trended cheaper by 3¢ to 5¢/kg. Cows sold to subdued processor competition as prices trended from 2¢ to 9¢/kg lower. The plainer 2 scores averaged 106¢, while the better covered 3 and 4 scores ranged from 106¢ to 168¢/kg. Heavy weight bulls slipped 3¢ as the best reached 193¢/kg.

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