Limousin cattle

Young cattle prices fell further this week, now sitting at nearly half of what they were just 12 months ago. If we look at it in a per-head format, year-on-year sellers are receiving close to $1000 less than they were this time in 2022.

The Eastern Young Indicator sits at 562ȼ/kg, its lowest point since January 2020. This has brought it back closer in line with the 10-year average and just 7% lower than the five-year average, which is 744ȼ/kg for the corresponding week.

 

EYCI-eligible cattle going to feeders came under the least amount of pressure week-on-week, only losing just 1ȼ/kg for the week, while in comparison restockers paid 11ȼ/kg less and processors nearly 20ȼ/kg. The national feeder, heavy steer, and cow indicators also fell to their lowest points since the end of 2019 or the start of 2020. However, they’ve fared slightly better over the past month than young cattle, all losing about 30ȼ/kg compared to the EYCI’s 50ȼ/kg.

 

Export demand isn’t applying downward pressure, with total beef volumes lifting 14% year-on-year for the month of May and recording the strongest figures since 2020. China remained the biggest market and lifted 44% compared to May 2022, while an extra 63% went to the US, Australia’s primary market for lean grass-fed beef. This increase hasn’t impacted the price, with the 90CL US imported beef price currently trading at 15% above year-ago levels at 816ȼ/kg.

 

And it wouldn’t appear to be increased supply this week specifically pushing prices down, with just 34,000 head yarded nationally, 32% below the five-year average for the corresponding week. This is the lowest yarding figure since mid-April, which was impacted by public holidays causing short weeks, and well below the weeks since, with yardings for the total month of May nearly 100,000 head above the average monthly numbers. However, rain (predicted and actual) would have been the biggest driver of fewer yarding numbers.

 

Most recent slaughter data has headed in the other direction, lifting 7% week-on-week and now just shy of 9% below the five-year average for the week. This brings the throughput more closely in line with 2020, although still below it, and still more than 30,000 head a week down from the same week in 2018 and 2019. Will be interesting to see if lower yardings this week equate to lower slaughter once these latest figures come in.

Next week

Widespread rain this week may have given those who received it a good confidence boost, encouraging producers to hold onto some stock if they aren’t willing to meet the current market, but there is little indication of any new positive influences reaching cattle prices next week. If anything, stock held off because of the weather and a public holiday could cause indicators to move further south in the short term.

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Data sources: MLA, Mecardo

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