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A short selling week saw yardings down significantly, all cattle indicators had a lift in prices on the back of tighter supply. An increase in demand from northern buyers off the back of the rain that fell through the week helped push prices higher.

The Eastern Young Cattle Indicator (EYCI) made some gains on the previous week, finishing the final selling week of March at 600c/kg cwt. The increase was driven by the decrease in throughput for the indicator with the yardings down by 50% to 7.1k head. Another contributing factor to the decrease was from the strong rain in the QLD and Northern NSW, with producers choosing to hold onto stock. Restockers were keen to re-enter the market off the back of the rain buying.

The other indicators all followed suit, with yardings down by roughly half and the prices rising slightly across the board. Saleyard reports talk of strong demand from restockers, particularly those based in the north. Processors and feeders were still present at the auctions, although some were not active this week. Heavy Steers saw the biggest lift in price compared to Friday last week, ending this week at 304c/kg, up 10% (28c/kg). Restocker Heifer, Steer, Dairy and Feeder indicators all rose between 3-5% in terms of price compared to Friday the week before.

East Coast Slaughter levels continue to remain above the 5-year average levels, for the week ending the 22nd of March the volume of slaughter was 17% above the 5-year average and 19% what it was in the prior year. Despite some recent reports of a decrease in processors’ involvement in the market, they are still operating close to capacity.

Yardings this week were down 67% on the week on the week prior, with one less selling day and some other sales not taking place this was expected. The rainfall in the northern parts of the East Coast also renewed the confidence and optimism of producers who will hold onto stock as opposed to selling them.

Beef exports to the United States remain at elevated levels, as the US continue to destock their domestic herd as they reach their lowest herd population in the past 50 years.  Per Steiner, in the first quarter of 2024, beef exports to the US are projected to have increased by 83% compared to Q1 for 2023. 

Next week

Another short-selling week following the Easter long weekend should see a similar result to this week with below-average yardings causing supporting prices. There is some rain forecast for the East Coast according to BOM, if it falls this should continue to ease the concerns over feed for some producers, creating more upside on prices.

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Data sources: MLA, BOM, Steiner Consulting Group, Mecardo

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