Young cattle prices have bounced back after the recent rain, improving 28ȼ to 626ȼ/kg cwt. While rain helps limit the flow of cattle at one end of the supply chain, at the other, plenty of beef is on deck and headed overseas.

The story at Roma and Dubbo was big yardings and keen demand for big cattle with buyers bidding in dearer markets for heavier stock. The national heavy steer indicator improved 4ȼ  to 307ȼ/kg lwt as a result.  

 The national feeder steer indicator improved 16ȼ to 334 ȼ/kg lwt. Feeders were back to bidding, as the east coast rain has washed anxiety about buying cattle to finish for later in the year.  March export data was released this week and those feeder buyers will like what they see. Japan is bouncing back on the export front this year, importing 21007 tonnes swt beef in March (third-best month since 2022).  Grainfed beef exports to Japan are 15% higher YoY which is beneficial news. A return to business as normal for the Australian-Japan beef trade (and renewed grain-fed cattle demand) will be an important support mechanism to work through supply over winter.

Making sure we don’t forget who is really driving the export demand at the moment, US beef exports have had the strongest start to a calendar year since 2016, with over 68,000 tonnes of beef shipped. That’s 79% higher year on year and 67% higher than the 5-year average. 

Wagga also saw similar bidding trends favouring heavy cattle but of note in saleyard reports was the focus of processors bidding for and acquiring cows. The processor cow indicator is up 7 ȼ for the week but 31 ȼ for the month to sit at 240 ȼ/kg.  

As mentioned in this week’s cattle market analysis by Angus Brown (read here), the 90CL Frozen Cow export beef price to the US has rallied strongly over recent weeks. Much like Willy Wonka’s invisible elevator, the 90CL keeps rising, reaching 938 ȼ /kg last week.  Steiner reports that US buyers of lean beef will remain aggressive moving forward and that the holiday period’s impact on slaughter and beef supply available for export is of keen interest to the US.

Next week

The recent rainfall will benefit pastoralists in Queensland, but perhaps of more interest will be the March live cattle export figures due out next week. Indonesia are keen on beef, they imported over 10K tonnes of beef in March, the highest figure since May 2016. and a big return to the trade this year can only help with the supply situation.

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Data sources: Mecardo, MLA, BOM

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