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Cattle numbers continue to rise in the north as dry weather sends stock out of the paddock. While temperatures are rising and no rain is on the short-term forecast, the BOM has given us a slither of hope in their long-range forecast.

Up North, Feedlots remain in the driver’s seat and this week feeder cattle prices dropped 10¢ to 285¢/kg, a clear sign of lower buying demand. According to Argus reports, there are concerns that dry conditions in northern NSW and southern QLD have seen producers turn off stock early, which may mean tight supply of heavy feeder steers when feedlot buying returns in late September.

But in good news for the northern country, the ban brought down on a number of export yards in the NT, QLD, and WA by Indonesia on concerns of Lumpy Skin Disease has been lifted. Reduced demand for meat in Southeast Asia and the weaker domestic market is being reflected in Australian live cattle prices. This week Feeder Steers ex Darwin were quoted at $3.10-3.20.

Roma store sale reported stronger demand for good quality lines this week, while at Dalby several export buyers were absent, and prices generally declined on a larger yarding. The Eastern Young Cattle Indicator dropped 24¢ over the week to 424¢/kg cwt. Feeder, Restock, and Processor young cattle markets all declined in the range of 21-23¢ this week in the east. Looking West, prices also trended down in most categories with processors pulling back, but more interest from paddock and feedlot buyers was evident. The Western Young Cattle Indicator fell 69¢ to 450¢/kg cwt.

Cow prices felt some pain this week, with the National Processor Cow Indicator slipping back to 193¢/kg cwt. While we had seen some strength in this market over the last few months, prices have now returned to the lows of June. The normal trend is for cow prices to slowly rise from here through to November.

Some support for lean grinding beef export demand may come from the US in the short term. While the US lean beef market typically declines in their fall (our Spring) Steiner is reporting that US importers are scrambling and paying up for imported product. The 90CL US imported Australian beef price was last reported at 823¢ in AUD terms, which is the strongest it’s been since May.  

Next week

The forecast is telling us the next fortnight will be hot and dry, with very hot temperatures moving from West Australia to the East Coast. Rainfall, if any, is to be restricted to southern parts of the country. Unnervingly the Indian Ocean conditions are looking very similar to those seen in 2019. However long-term forecasts currently show this will revert towards the end of summer and the change of exceeding median rainfall in January will increase in much of the east.

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Data sources: Mecardo; Meat and Livestock Australia; Argus Meat & Livestock, Mecardo

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