cattle behind fence in a row

National cattle yardings jumped significantly this week, but it didn’t put downward pressure on prices, as indicators rose across the board. Young cattle, feeders, and restocker performed particularly well this week, indicating a more positive outlook for the cattle market in general moving forward.

Meat and Livestock Australia reported cattle yarding numbers increased by more than 10,000 head this week, to just above 50,000, but remained about 7000 head below both the five-year average for this sale week. Higher numbers at store sales in Mortlake, Victoria, and Roma, Queensland, made up a majority of the difference. The week-delayed slaughter figures however, while dropping week-on-week in line with lower yardings last week, continued their strong trend and were about 23% higher year-on-year.

The Eastern States Young Cattle Indicator lifted significantly this week, up more than 40¢/kg to land at 443¢/kg. Queensland sales (Roma store and Dalby) had the highest EYCI throughput and both operated at well above the EYCI average, indicating rainfall in the north is supporting demand.

Feeders took the biggest volume of EYCI-eligible stock this week, with more than 50%. Restockers were also active and once again paid a good premium, spending an average of 478¢/kg, more than 40¢/kg above the EYCI average. The EYCI, while still just 45% of the price it was this time last year, has lifted an optimistic 93¢/kg for the month.

The latest Australian Lot Feeders Association and MLA lotfeeding brief show the September quarter as having the highest grainfed beef volume on record, with cattle on feed continuing to increase for the quarter as well. The national feeder steer price has been on the increase since the start of the month, increasing 20¢/kg this week to 237¢/kg. Argus Meat and Livestock put the increase down to predicted rainfall in the coming week, with some feeders trying to secure numbers before they either can’t get them or the price potentially rises further, rather than because of any increase to their income at the other end.

At the finished end, the heavy setter price did lift this week to 210¢/kg, a more modest rise of 9¢/kg for the month than the other indicators. Processor cows held pretty firm this week, up just 3¢/kg to 172¢/kg, and have climbed about 17¢/kg for the month. Restocker steers and heifers, on the other hand, have increased the most in the past four weeks, up 67¢/kg and 52¢/kg respectively – perhaps the biggest sign things are looking more optimistic for cattle. 

Next week

Forecast rain on the East Coast could put further positive sentiment in the cattle market, and with the festive season closures just a month away, all types of buyers will be making sure they have what they want before the break. Rainfall in the right areas could prompt producers to hang onto cattle in the new year as well, in the hope the price trends will continue in the current direction. 

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Data sources:MLA| Mecardo

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