THE prospect of decent rain this week across large parts of eastern Queensland and northern NSW will have a significant bearing on northern cattle markets over the next few weeks, market watchers suggest.
Attention is heavily focussed on a promising weather influence that’s forecast by the Bureau across parts of Queensland, which earlier this week hit a record drought declaration covering more than 87 percent of the state.
As this BOM eight-day forecast map (current Monday) shows, 25-100mm is forecast across large parts of Queensland, and stretching into northern NSW between yesterday and March 20.
There have been light to moderate falls over the past 24 hours, but an inch or two at least would be needed across widespread areas to have any significant impact on the cattle market. Isolated solid falls have been recorded so far around the border towns of Goondiwindi and Warwick, but lighter falls of just 5-15mm have been more common across the Darling Downs to this point.
Processor cattle buyers in Queensland admitted that their phones have gone a little quiet this week, as producers hold-off, waiting to see if rain falls, where it falls, and how much.
“Good falls, if they are spread widely enough, could definitely see the slaughter cattle supply slow up for a period,” one processor said. “But if this week’s forecast fails to live up to expectations, many producers in dry areas will see this as the last roll of the dice, and may start lightening off in earnest in the lead-in to winter.”
While isolated patches of country that fell under earlier scattered storms have had enough moisture to plant oats, many Darling Downs and northern NSW cattle producers looking to establish a forage crop this year badly need moisture between now and mid-April to get a crop in.
Grids continue to soften
A number of Queensland direct consignment slaughter grids have fallen again since Thursday, as the flow of cattle caused by dry weather continues to meet processor requirements.
Several southern Queensland processors told Beef Central they are now ‘comfortably off’ for kill requirements for the next three to four0 weeks. Further helping the processors’ cause in maintaining kills are two short weeks in the next month or so, falling either side of Easter. Public holidays yesterday in Victoria, South Australia and Tasmania will further cap kills in those southern states this week.
Southern Queensland price grids seen yesterday (Monday) had four-tooth ox at 485-500c/kg, depending on location, and heavy cows 440-445c. That’s a 45c/kg fall in the past three weeks on some steer descriptions, and a 60c drop since the market peak in early February.
A Northern NSW export processor has grids for kills week commencing 3 April at 500c/kg for four-tooth ox, HGP-free, and full-mouth cows 450c. That grid delivery date also suggests numbers adequate to fill scheduled kill rosters for three weeks.
- Due to the Public Holiday yesterday in VIC, SA and TAS, the weekly Eastern States Slaughter report was not available by the time this item was posted. We will come back and add the results later today, when they become available.