Angus cattle in green paddock with dark clouds in the background

The first sales of the new year have shown a positive start for cattle markets with the majority of indicators finishing above the peaks of December. Supply was tighter, but still relatively strong as the momentum builds up following the shutdowns over the Christmas break. After a wet December, demand was buoyed by further rainfall on the East Coast that continues to drive confidence.

Yardings compared to last year were slightly down as saleyards reopen for 2024. Preliminary data from the MLA show a total of 25,606 head, down 9% on the 2nd week of January in 2023. When taking into account last month’s December yardings which were 120% above the previous year of December 2022, it shows that there is still a lot of supply coming from the paddocks around the country.    

The East Coast had a very wet start to the year, continuing from high December totals. Parts of Victoria flooded and received monthly averages or more in 24 hours. This helped lift cattle prices as feed concerns through the drier summer months continue to erode, and overall confidence in the market continues to rise.  

The Eastern Young Cattle Indicator built on its price climb in December finishing the week at 589c/kg cwt. Supply was down 3% on this time last year with 7630 head moving through the yards (not everyone has returned from the break). Roma had the largest offering and helped pull the price up, averaging 659 c/kg cwt, which was 12% (71 c/kg) above the indicator. Saleyard reports indicate the usual suspects and other active buyers were present, helping to increase the competition.

Processor cows trended the same as the ECYI, up 3% on price highs of December finishing the week at 227 c/kg lwt. Wagga had the highest yarding with just over 1000 head being sold.   At Mt. Gambier reports stated that “all buyers coming forward” helped push their average 9% above the indicator.      

The Western Young Cattle Indicator also opened the year higher than when it closed last year, finishing the week at 499 c/kg cwt up 12% (50c/kg) on this time last month. It was the 12th All black special weaner sale which drew a “large gallery of buyers” according to the sale report. This is despite the West hardly receiving any rain with the December total being 41% below the average.

Next week

Expect to see an increase in activity as more buyers and sellers enter the market after returning from their Christmas break. Confidence in the market is high off the back of large amounts of rain on the east coast and the strong start to the new year building on from the price rallies late last year. Confidence in the market and demand side fundamentals could lead to further price rises in the short term.

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Data sources: MLA, BOM, Mecardo

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