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Slaughter demand took a heavy hit last week on account of the sudden declaration of a public holiday on the 22nd of September to mark the queens death, but yardings have surged this week, while prices have held relatively firm.

East coast cattle slaughter has continued on the steep downward trajectory that started in early August. Slaughter plummeted 10% week on week to 76,982 head. Slaughter fell in all states, with a 7% fall in QLD numbers, 34% in VIC and 19% in NSW. The public holiday for the national day of mourning of the Queen’s death meant a lost day of production, while in VIC, the AFL grand final public holiday also landed on the Friday, further disrupting kills. A bit of a bounce in slaughter can be expected to be recorded in this week as abattoirs play catchup for last week.

East coast yardings last week saw a week on week lift of 30% despite the queens birthday holiday, and initial yarding’s figures for this week indicate that there was a post long weekend rush to the yards, with an 11,237(32%) head week on week increase lifting numbers to reach 45,000 head. Roma store yarded 5,500, while Blackall, QLD saw 6,300 head go through the gates, both the highest weekly yarding’s for the year.

The Eastern states Young Cattle Indicator (EYCI) basically meandered sideways, losing 2¢(<1%), with Roma store yearling steers fetching 1,216¢/kg cwt, while Wagga steers clocked in at 1,132¢/kg and Armidale steers reached 1,251¢/kg cwt. EYCI eligible yardings also remained relatively static, at 11,430 head.

Looking to the other side of the country, the Western Young Cattle Indicator (WYCI) rose 51¢ this week, at 934¢/kg cwt, with the vealer percentage dropping 10% to 35%. However, steer prices weakened  75¢(8%) to 911¢/kg cwt. Eligible yardings reached the highest level in the last four months, at 574 head.

The national indicators saw minor declines in young cattle, with feeder steer prices falling 9¢(2%) week on week, to 514¢/kg lwt, but holding incredibly well considering that feeder yardings, at 7,045 head were the highest seen in several months. Medium steer prices tracked the other way, rising 22¢(5%) to 461¢/kg.

As expected, 90CL frozen cow prices have benefited substantially from the recent weakening of the AUD against the US dollar. Last week’s latest price rose 16¢/kg swt to 839¢/kg. Steiner reports that the US marketplace is still a tough environment for beef importers, as domestic lean beef prices are weakening, and US buyers are largely unenthusiastic about paying a premium for foreign beef. Among the trade, there is a general worry that a slowing US economy will drive down beef demand over the next year. Fine dining is taking a hit, with lower patronage already, although fast food outlets have reported that consumers are adjusting well to higher prices, which has boosted sales revenue overall for many in the industry.

The week ahead….

Despite the sudden spike in yardings this week, the market seems well supported by underlying demand, as prices still held, or climbed against the opposing tide of supply. This is a very encouraging sign that underlying demand, especially for young cattle is solid at the moment. As the northern monsoon season approaches, there is potential for more confidence to evolve if it appears that La Niña  will deliver good pastoral conditions over summer.

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Data sources: MLA, Mecardo

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