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Strong Queensland cattle supply hasn’t dented the market as the uplift in confidence continues. Whilst we are seeing a “Feeder Frenzy” at the yards, Processors have followed suit as YTD East Coast slaughter has grown 10% Year on Year so far in 2024.

After weather interruptions last week, the saleyards in Queensland were chock full of stock. Per NLRS, Queensland saleyard throughput reached 23,845 which is 58% higher than a fortnight ago and 51% higher than the five-year average for the sale week.   

The big yarding is of course a logistical reaction to last week’s interruption, but looking at year-to-date figures, Queensland saleyard supply has been immense since the start the year. The five-year average for Queensland yardings (including the liquidation period of 2019) for the year-to-date period is 53K head. In 2024, YTD yardings are 27% more than this number at 67K head.

Roma and Dalby saleyard reports this week noted that demand was strongest for heavier feeder spec cattle.  Since the last sale week of November 24/11/2023  (Pre-rain) in Queensland,  Feeder steer prices in QLD have improved 39% to an average of 372 ȼ/kg lwt this week. So supply in QLD has been strong but an argument can be made that demand is even stronger. 

Cattle are still affordable in the context of the last few seasons, rain is reaching pasture, and there’s more room on the farm to carry stock after the elevated levels of cattle exiting the system last season. Slaughter capacity looks to be improving and processors will be hunting for finished stock in the next few months. Furthermore, 90CL export pricing to the US reached 243.5 USC/LB  this week, its highest mark since September.

It has been a challenging summer on the West Coast, but in a silver lining for sellers in WA, the Feeder Frenzy has made its way across the Nullabor as Interstate buyers at the yards helped to push the Western Young Cattle Indicator (WYCI) 63ȼ  higher on the week to 454 ȼ/kg cwt.   

Next week

As we approach the end of February, significant datasets including lot-feeding data and herd projections from the government and MLA will begin to be released.

Whilst the fundamentals are strong for cattle markets, we will soon have a better indication of the capacity of buyers. It will also shed light on finished cattle supply which will impact auction day bidding strategies as we inch closer to Easter.

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Data sources: MLA, Mecardo

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