Angus Cattle

Prices took a tumble this week at saleyards across the nation, every indicator suffered drops of over 20 c/kg. Early data suggests supply was flat week on week but is significantly higher than the 5-year average for the same selling week. Similarly, the level of buyer competition at the yards we’ve seen over the last few weeks dissipated.

The Eastern Young Cattle Indicator (EYCI) fell 6% (43 c/kg) week on week finishing at 628 c/kg cwt. Headcount for the indicator was down as well by 14% (3.6k head) to 22.5k head. Feeders were the largest buying group for the week, accounting for 57% of the cattle purchased. Roma was the dominant saleyard of the indicator accounting for 20% of the volume and trading on average 4% (27 c/kg lwt) above the indicator average for the week.

Processor cows dropped by 9% (24c/kg) to 234 c/kg lwt to the same price it was in early May 2023, after coming within 30 c/kg of the price 1 year ago last week. Wagga had the highest volume of 10% and helped soften the price drop of the indicator trading on average 5% above the indicator.

The Western Young Cattle Indicator (WYCI) had the largest drop in prices out of the indicators this week falling by 14% (71 c/kg) to 427 c/kg cwt. The WYCI hasn’t followed the same trajectory as its Eastern counterpart, missing out on the rally in price seen by the majority of indicators late at the end of 2023. This has caused some eastern-based buyers to make the trip west to secure cheaper stock. 

Slaughter for the previous week was up 7% (8.5k head) to 122.5k head nationally, the highest number for 2024 so far and 11% above the 5-year average for weekly slaughter volumes. Last week’s figure is 10k head off the highest slaughter number for 2023 which occurred in mid-November. This Points to processors operating at near capacity levels, which might be driving the decrease in demand seen across the indicators for the week as they work through the current outlay of cattle.

Preliminary yarding numbers according to the MLA were flat week on week, at 80.5k head passing through saleyards across the nation. This is 61% above the 5-year average for the same sales week as producers are cashing in on the recent price rises of the indicators. These recent high levels of supply have found support for the most part from strong restocker demand that has helped keep prices buoyant. 

Next week

With processors nearing recent historical capacity after weeks of elevated supply, competition at the saleyard rail might begin to erode if throughput continues at this level. This would put downward pressure on prices in the short term.

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Data sources: MLA, Mecardo

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