This week delivered positivity for anyone looking to sell young cattle, with the EYCI clawing back most of last week’s lost ground, and restocker prices lifted sharply, with all the price and volume impetus coming from QLD, as per usual. Brazil is also chewing through its US quotas at a lightning pace, which is looking positive for the 90CL price in Q2.

East coast slaughter numbers tracked upwards a net 3% last week, with QLD and NSW leading the way, both booking 4% lifts, whilst the tassie kill shot up 65%, however numbers slackened 15% in VIC, pulling down the final net result.

Overall east coast yardings inched up 1% last week, but the 13% and 21% weekly increments booked by NSW and VIC were offset by a 15% fall in QLD offerings. Supply is still historically low though, at 22% off the pace of what was seen this time last year.

However, EYCI yardings of 14,469 head this week, up 22% from last week are indicative that we might see a strong lift in yardings for this week when the data is released.

The EYCI rose by 8¢ (<1%) to 1,128¢/kg cwt, rebounding from last week’s minor reversal. Roma store lead the way, contributing 20% to the weekly index, at 1147¢/kg cwt, followed by Dalby at 14%, with 1168¢/kg cwt the average price of cattle there.

Over in the west, the WYCI lifted 23¢(2%) to 1,111¢/kg cwt, on a solid yarding of 953 head, up 310% from the prior week, with the proportion of vealers in the market lifting from 60% last week to over 75% this week.

On the national categories there was a mixed bag of results, with restocker prices pushing up 20¢(3%) to 749¢/kg lwt, however, processor steer and medium steer prices backtracked 1%.

However, when looking at the makeup of the processor steer indicator, given that the index currently only covers prices from 50 odd head across 8 saleyards, the price should be looked at with a significant grain of salt. On the restocker side, similar to the EYCI, QLD saleyards such as Roma, Gracemere and Dalby dominate the price, collectively making up 70% of the index. Gracemere booked a steep 784¢/kg lwt this week, 5% above the national indicator value.

The US frozen cow 90CL price has continued to climb, adding another 5¢(<1%) to reach 924¢/kg swt. The latest Steiner report comments that lack of product from Australian and NZ have kept grinding beef price extremely firm, and that it is expected that the days of cheap Brazilian beef will be over shortly, as early as the end of Q1, when the Most Favoured Nation (MFN) quota of 65,000 tonnes is filled, and a 26.5% tariff is applied. In addition, the domestic cull rate of US cows and bulls is moving at blistering pace that is starting to rival some of the biggest cattle liquidations in US history.

The week ahead….

Strong volumes of EYCI eligible cattle offered to the market this week, combined with the price of restocker steers holding ground, particularly in the key state of QLD are indicative of good underlying demand and producer confidence. As such, seeing more resilience in prices next week would not be a surprise.

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Data sources: MLA, Mecardo

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