Heavy to young cattle discounts flipped

Beef cattle

Young Cattle on the East Coast are below 400¢/kg cwt for the first time since March 2019. The more affordable trend has seen the heavy steer discount to young cattle flipped which may potentially coax those confident in their feedbase back into the young cattle market.

The Eastern Young Cattle Indicator (EYCI) finished the week 27¢ lower to 397¢/kg cwt, a -6.4% week-on-week change. When we look at the same time last year, 679¢ have been wiped off the EYCI, a 63% year-on-year change.

On the lean beef front, the 90CL indicator continues to improve, up 6¢ to 830¢/kg AUD. The national processor cow indicator this week trended lower falling 12.3% week on week to 313¢/kg cwt (169¢ /kg lwt). The yarding figures through the sales yard for processor spec cows were very similar to the previous week at 10,290 head (a -5% week-on-week change).

For the month to date in September, processor cow throughput per the MLA sits at 23,922 head. This is already 11% above September throughput in 2022. Processor demand for this spec of cattle should be and is strong given the export pricing and margin available, however, we are also seeing significant supply for this type of cattle in the yards currently.

New South Wales restocking and feeder cattle markets saw an influx of supply this week. A 12% increase in throughput saw the National Restocker yearling steer indicator finish the week 8¢ lower to 233¢/kg lwt. An 18% increase in feeder steer spec cattle throughput saw the feeder indicator nationally fall to 235¢/kg lwt, a decline of 15¢. Argus reports that feeder spec cattle in southern markets might find themselves heading north in the coming weeks. In Queensland, the feeder steer indicator improved 4¢ to 248¢/kg lwt.

National heavy steer indicator lost 19¢ to 233¢/kg lwt, a 7.6% drop week on week. With the young cattle price decline in the last few months outpacing the finished cattle pricing, we are back to a position where young cattle are now at a discount to heavy steers at a national level (See Figure 2), potentially presenting an opportunity for those that might have a feed platform heading into 2024.  

Next week

Slaughter last week was 44% higher year on year on the East Coast, and this level of productivity will likely be required for the next month to move through the cattle that might head to market after the BOMs declaration.

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Data sources: MLA, Steiner, Argus, Refinitiv, Mecardo

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