The cattle market gained momentum this week, as plenty of active buyers drove prices upward and allowed the market to recover some recently lost ground. Across most categories, prices increased by 15-20¢ compared to last week.

According to preliminary figures from MLA, 58,524 head of cattle were yarded across NLRS-reported saleyards. Despite shorter working weeks, this figure is at the lower end of supply levels seen over the past few months. Throughput was particularly tight in NSW. With Beef Week set to start next week in Rockhampton, numbers are expected to be even lighter in the north. However, a seasonal increase in supply is anticipated in the following weeks of May, with levels likely to stay elevated throughout the winter.

The Eastern Young Cattle Indicator (EYCI) rose by 20¢ over the week, closing at 604¢/kg cwt. Dubbo reported an average young cattle price of 640¢/kg, making it the strongest of the major markets this week. Notable active bidding from feedlots and backgrounders was observed in Wagga, while restocker activity was muted. With widespread rain across much of NSW this week, increased activity from restockers is anticipated.

In the north, Angus feeder cattle prices saw improvements, with those weighing over 400kg becoming increasingly scarce. Argus reports that many feedlots are facing procurement challenges, with supply likely to remain tight through winter.

Cow prices were on the rebound, with the national indicator up 17¢/kg to 216¢/kg lwt. This was despite a stronger yarding compared to the week prior. There has been a general rising trend in cow prices in the west in the last two months, and this week a slight improvement saw the WA processor cow indicator at 176¢/kg cwt. Dry conditions in the west have been driving strong turnoff levels and the lofty discount to the eastern market. Some patches of WA received 15-20mm in the last week, but much more is needed to turn around the season.

US imported 90CL grinding beef prices have hit the pause button after rallying strongly through April. Near-term fed beef supply in the US is higher than previously feared according to Steiner, which has allowed prices to level at least for a while. Long-term prices are expected to stay well supported and increase, as US cow slaughter declines in 2024 and 2025.  

Next week

A wet week expected across inland NSW can only be positive for the market. While it may not significantly limit turnoff before the winter chill kicks in, it will provide a boost to confidence in the seasonal outlook and open the door to trading opportunities as we reported in this week’s analysis.

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Click on graph to expand

Click on graph to expand

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Data sources: MLA, Argus, Refinitiv, Mecardo

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