Multiple angus cattle

Supply pressure knocked the market out of its holding pattern this week, sending prices lower across all key categories. Diminishing feed in parts of the south and the flow of cattle from of the weather-disrupted north saw feeder and young cattle values slide.

According to several reports from the yards, buyers paid attention to quality this week, and this showed in the price differences between best and lesser quality stock.

The Eastern Young Cattle Indicator (EYCI) lost 14¢ over the week to 616¢/kg cwt which is 56¢ lower month-on-month. Restocker buyers maintained their average price this week, but it was reduced interest from processor buyers in particular, and feedlots that sent the EYCI lower. In the West, young cattle prices gained 3¢ to 436¢/kg cwt.

Heavy Steer prices lost 10¢/kg lwt this week, but at 287¢/kg, remain above the recent low of 278¢ that was reached in mid-February. According to Argus, one southern Queensland processor has placed prices on 100-day grain fed kill for July 20¢ lower than June due to the rise in feeder steer supply. The National Feeder Steer Indicator is currently at 330¢/kg lwt, which is 28¢ lower than a month ago.

Processor cow prices slipped lower this week along with the broader market. The National Processor Cow Indicator fell 7¢ over the week to 234¢/kg lwt which is nearing its recent low from February. The US grinding beef market remains strong, with the largest wildfire in the history of Texas creating additional headaches in the short term for a market already struggling with supply. Demand for imported Australian product is expected to hold firm to stronger as retail activity in the US picks up in April and May.

Preliminary NLRS reports show a large lift in yardings this week compared to last. At the time of writing, a throughput of almost 80,000 head nationally was reported for this week, which is an additional 10K head or 16% on the week prior. Throughput doubled week-on-week in Victoria, and numbers increased significantly in Dalby with a yarding of over 5,000 head of cattle this week. 

Next week

The 10-day precipitation forecast shows that the eastern interior is expected to remain hot and dry. However, falls are expected in northern QLD, northern NT and curling through WA with up to 150mm in parts over the 10 days. Pockets of dryness across the country may see some stronger turnoff in the weeks ahead, but broadly there is confidence which should continue to support a floor in the market.

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Data sources: MLA, Argus, Mecardo

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