A 51 percent decline in national cattle yardings last week helped to stem an ongoing slide in the Eastern Young Cattle Indicator.
The vealer and yearling cattle price barometer dropped to 364c/kg last Tuesday before rising slightly on Thursday as numbers dried up due to last Wednesday’s Anzac Day public holiday.
While the disruption to regular sales was an obvious factor behind the sharp reduction in yardings, Meat and Livestock Australia also pointed to vendor reaction to the lower prices of recent weeks as another possible factor for the extent of the yarding decline.
The EYCI closed at 366c on Friday, 23c/kg or 5pc lower than its level of a fortnight ago.
The sharp reduction in numbers experienced during the public-holiday affected trading of last week contrasted sharply with the large yardings of the previous full week of trading. In that week, which saw much larger falls in the young cattle prices, EYCI yardings reached a new weekly high for the year of 21,000 cattle.
Declining quality due to cooler temperatures and the impact of shorter days on overall finish and presentation was reflected in MLA data showing a higher proportion of leaner cattle in EYCI yardings during April, with the amount of C2 drafts lifting 10pc, while C3 pens declined 12pc, compared to April 2011.
MLA said year-on-year comparisons also showed the impact that lower young cattle prices have had on demand from paddock buyers this year, with restockers securing 19pc more cattle through April than in the same month last year.
Most interest from restockers in recent weeks has been for light and medium weight yearling steers under 350kg.
The lower prices had also resulted in lot feeders buying a higher proportion of yearling steers and heifers.
While the EYCI stabilised towards the end of last week, heavy categories continued to feel the impact of the recent surge in numbers and sluggish export demand, MLA reported. Heavy steers (500-600kg C4) declined another 6c for the week to average 321c/kg cwt.