The combination of the recent east coast downpour, transport challenges and the upcoming Easter break has seen yardings plummet for the week ending 26th March 2021. Processor closures are also expected to impact the market in the weeks ahead.

Only 26,025 cattle were yarded on the east coast last week, down 10,000 head or 30% from the week prior and over 65% or 75,000 down on this time last year. Meat & Livestock Australia (MLA) have also made an early release of yardings figures for this week (Monday to Wednesday) showing 20,758 cattle were yarded on the east coast for this period.

Average weekly yarding’s for the east coast year to date are at 33,175 head, down significantly on last year’s average of 43,681.  To put it in recent historical perspective, 2018 and 2019’s average weekly yardings were both around 54,000 per week. As we can see in Figure 1 Easter disrupts normal yardings patterns. Since 2010 more often than not yardings are lower in the week following easter than the week prior.  

93,964 cattle were slaughtered on the east coast for the week ending 26th March 2021, down 5% on the week prior. It was NSW in the driving seat, at just 22,815 head processed, down 17% on last week. Slaughter in our biggest cattle-producing state, QLD, was just down 1% on the week prior, at 49,491, yet 30% down on this time last year. Last week the Female slaughter ratio in QLD was just under 36%.

While the EYCI hit a new record earlier in the week and there was talk of it pushing past the 900cent mark, in the end, it settled back down to 877.5¢ as of 31st March, still a historically high price – up 175¢ on this time last year. It should be noted that MLA has warned of price fluctuations in their Indicators in the coming weeks due to low yardings numbers.

The National Cow Indicator dropped 4% to 489¢/kg cwt.

Looking at NSW and we saw falls in nearly all indicator’s, the biggest being a 31¢  week on week drop for the Restocker Yearling Steer indicator, which settled as of Wednesday at 507¢/kg lwt, followed by a 15.4¢ drop from last week for the Vealer Steer indicator, which settled close to the national figure of 508¢ kg lwt. 

In Victoria it was the opposite however, as we saw lifts in all indicators. The biggest improvement on last week came from the medium steer indicator which rose 64¢ week on week, to settle at 452¢/kg lwt.

The 90Cl price jumped up 17¢ from last week, or a 2.6% lift, helped no doubt by US Stimulus and a lower AUD of 0.6%, which settled at US $0.759, a smidgen down from last week.   

The week ahead….

With plenty of grass in the paddocks we can expect supply to remain tight for the foreseeable future as producers take advantage of the good seasonal conditions. On top of this, the short weeks due to the Easter public holidays will constrict supply even further, supporting prices as we move into winter.

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Data sources: MLA, NLRS, Mecardo

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