With just a few days of trading to go for the year, producers look as though they continued to try to get in while the going was good this week, with high yarding numbers indicating prices have improved enough that there were still plenty of punters out there keen to cash in before Christmas this week. Prices did ease on the back of about 160,000 head of cattle going through the yards in two weeks but showed resilience to remain well above month-ago levels.

The Eastern Young Cattle Indicator stands at 538¢/kg, and felt perhaps the most downward pressure this week, losing nearly 6% from the previous week, but at 95¢/kg higher than four weeks ago, was still offering positive results. The store sale at Roma, Queensland, accounted for a quarter of the EYCI throughput and traded at nearly 50¢/kg above the average. Feeders were out in force this week it would seem, taking more than half of all EYCI stock, but only averaging 535¢/kg, while restockers were paying 564¢/kg.

The national feeder steer indicator lost 20¢/kg for the week to land at 285¢/kg, with buyers at Roma paying a significant premium to the average (311¢/kg), but the largest yardings at Wagga Wagga and Carcoar, NSW ended up sitting at about the indicator mark.

Heavy steers only lost about 13¢/kg, with the national price ending the week at 250¢/kg. Roma restockers also boosted the yearling steer price, with 30% of the cattle eligible for that indicator which also dropped slightly to 310¢/kg, coming from there where the price was 30¢/kg above the average.

Yardings dropped by nearly 20,000 head this week after the huge surge the week prior which was the biggest cattle yarding in four years. This week’s yardings were still more than double the same week in 2022, and 45% higher than the average yarding for the past two years. The drop back down predominantly came from Queensland yards, which had increased by 80% the prior week. We are yet to see what that bumper yarding did to slaughter figures this week, but last week’s slaughter fell for the third consecutive week, down by about 3000 head. At 120,887 head though, this was still nearly 13% higher year-on-year for the week. 

Next week

Despite losing most of last week’s gains, cattle prices across the board showed plenty of resilience given the absolute onslaught of stock that has hit the market in the past fortnight. This will likely mean that cattle could keep coming out of the woodwork for those sales that are operating next week, and the prominence of feeder and restocker buyers over processors will keep supporting prices at close to current levels. What the weather does over the next three weeks, and how the weaner sales open up the 2024 trading year will be watched with keen interest.

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Data sources: MLA, Mecardo

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