Prices out of sight but top of mind

Cattle in a yard

Young cattle prices mustered up some more strength from another week of subdued supply to post yet another record. And what a record it was!

The Eastern Young Cattle Indicator smashed past last week’s record price, adding another 30 cents to close the week at 871¢/kg cwt. This was 59% (323¢) higher than the price was 12 months ago.

Not all categories rode the market higher with young cattle. There was no relief on the pressure of Heavy steers, as they trekked sideways at 375¢/kg lwt. Yearling steers ended the week slightly lower. There was no question of who was driving the young cattle price up, with Restocker steers gaining 44¢ on the week to finish at 556¢/kg LWT. Feeder and medium steers also had healthy rises of 9¢ and 17¢ respectively, with most of the push coming from NSW.

The supply numbers for the week ending the 15th of January, give a good reason for the market strength. While there was a week on week rise in slaughter and yardings, it was still coming off the extremely low base of post-holiday levels. However, with just 17874 cattle yarded on the east coast last week, figures this low are usually only reserved for the first week of the New Year. Total east coast yardings were 65% below the five-year average for this time in the year. South Australia was the only state that filled yards to a level that could be considered ‘normal’.

The diversion from the norm also showed up in the slaughter figures, although not to the same extreme, which explains why slaughter cattle prices didn’t gain as much ground this week. The number of cattle processed lifted 29% on the week but were still 28% below the five-year seasonal average.

Overseas and the 90CL frozen cow price remains firm at 619¢/kg swt in AUD terms. Steiner reported that while Australian supply is limited, it has been steady out of New Zealand. 

The week ahead….

While the rainfall forecast for the week ahead, isn’t tipping much above average, February is currently looking very wet if you put your faith in the BOM. Despite this, supply will have to ramp up from here, which is likely to see young cattle prices ease from the current extremes.

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Data sources: MLA, Steiner, Mecardo, BOM

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