cattle behind fence in a row

There was little movement in cattle prices again this week as the market holds firm, perhaps waiting to see if the rain forecast for parts of the East Coast in the coming days will eventuate. Beef export volumes reached their highest monthly total in October since 2019 (our last big turnoff year) according to MLA, an encouraging sign for demand - at the current price point of course. The national cow indicator has also lifted slightly for the month, which is a step in the right direction for producers.

Supply-wise, the latest slaughter figures came back slightly from the previous week, which was the highest figure for the year, but at a touch over 130,000 head was still in the top three highest throughput weeks for the year. It was also more than 36% higher year-on-year. Yardings also dipped, down about 1000 head this week, to sit just a fraction above the average figure for the year, and 10% lower than the same time in 2022.

Looking at the Eastern Young Cattle Indicator (EYCI) first, it finished the week at 366¢/kg and has held firm for the month of October. What has changed in the past month is the buyer equation. For quite some time restockers have been paying a discount to both processors and feeders, but the latest EYCI report shows they’ve overtaken both categories, paying about 13¢/kg more than feeders, and 22¢/kg more than processors. They’ve also seen the biggest price increase over the past week, increasing their average price by 14¢/kg and taking it above the EYCI average. Roma store offered the highest volume of EYCI-eligible cattle this week and was operating at no nearly 390¢/kg for this category.

Nationally, the feeder price picked up about 5¢/kg for the week, to land at 208¢/kg, but this was still down nearly 10¢/kg on a month ago. According to Argus Meat and Livestock, the Australian northern cattle feeder price was also up for the week, to 225¢/kg, and they reported prices firming. They also noted that processing capacity was still tight, despite rising slaughter volumes, and increased restocker activity was present in the market, potentially on the back of forecasted rain for southern inland Queensland in the coming week. National Heavy Steer Indicator was also up just shy of 5¢/kg but has lost more ground in the past month, down more than 20¢/kg.

As mentioned above, the cow price was up for the week and the only indicator showing real improvement in the past month, up nearly 25¢/kg, and the 90CL price has also been holding up well, especially considering exports to the US were up more than 100% year-on-year for the month of October.  

Next week

While it is unlikely there will be much upward movement in the cattle market between now and the end of the year, with processors and feeders alike having filled their quotas and bookings accordingly, if good rain does fall in areas of the east this coming week it could further encourage restocker activity and stop the prices dipping any further.

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Click on graph to expand

Click on graph to expand

Data sources: MLA, Mecardo

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