Angus cattle in green paddock with dark clouds in the background

There were no changes of significance to sway the cattle market dynamics in either direction this week. Most of the country was clear of rain, many processors are backed up with supply and the turnoff numbers are creeping higher. However, it’s the long-range forecast that’s now a source of some relief.

As we mentioned last week, rising slaughter rates are positive, in that processors are doing what they can to lift in response to the rising supply. With many processors now booked until the new year, any increase in capacity is good news. Cattle slaughter lifted 1% last week compared to the week prior, hitting a new high for the year of 132,421 nationally. Over the last four weeks, total slaughter was 9% higher than five-year average levels, but 17% below the same period in 2019.

Prices for all finished trade cattle saw a significant uptick in competition at Wagga saleyard as noted by MLA reports. Processor cow prices also improved marginally this week, up 3¢ to 158¢/kg lwt nationally.

Young cattle prices have tracked sideways (more or less) for the month of October, trading in a 350-370¢ range. There was an uptick this week with the Eastern Young Cattle Indicator (EYCI) gaining 10¢ to move back into the middle of the range at 359¢/kg cwt. It was restocker buyers that drove the improvement, spending on average 27¢ more for young cattle this week than last to see the average price at 361¢/kg cwt. This is now back in line with feeder values. Processor types also improved, up 10¢ on the week to 348¢/kg cwt.

Both Dalby and Roma store sales noted cattle were drawn from far Western Queensland as well as the local area and some numbers out of NSW. Although cattle numbers were back in both these centres this week and many are noting QLD supply is tightening slightly, buyers clearly have confidence that they have enough in the pipeline.

In the west, young cattle prices are again testing the bottom thanks to supply of new season weaners lifting throughput. The Western Young Cattle Indicator (WYCI) was down 22¢ on the week to 444¢/kg cwt. Cow prices were also down 14¢ on the week to 126¢/kg lwt in WA.  

Next week

The forecast for the next fortnight is showing some rain for coastal NSW and southern QLD. Changes to the long-range forecast are also more cause for optimism. Most models have now scaled back their predictions for the extremely dry December to February period. While there is still risk on the dry side, it’s not as extreme as originally considered.

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Data sources: MLA, Mecardo

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