The Eastern Cattle Market Indicator dropped below 500c/kg for the first time in three months yesterday as cattle markets came under pressure from high temperatures, worsening dry conditions and big opening yardings.
In a day that saw 10,000 cattle yarded at Roma, the EYCI dropped 12.5c yesterday to close at 490.25c/kg.
Roma Landmark’s Rod Turner said a reasonable number the cattle yarded still had condition and prices held up relatively well, but drought affected types did not fare as well in the large opening sale.
“Any cattle that are out of spec at the moment are definitely starting to feel the pain, and were back probably 20-30c,” he said.
A large yarding 9000 cattle has also been booked for today’s Dalby sale.
Further south Dubbo stock agent and market analyst David Monk said 3700 cattle have been drawn for tomorrow’s weekly prime sale, similar to the 3500 yarded last week. He said it was a likely that a lot of western cattle have not been trucked this week because of the heat, and bigger yardings would be likely in coming weeks.
Feedback Beef Central received from agents in central and northern Queensland this morning suggests signs of panic selling are now emerging following the lack of rain over the Christmas/New Year period and the return of searing temperatures in recent weeks.
Many producers are starting to think about moving cattle in the north which is unusual for January. Large areas have little feed reserves, and, facing prevailing costs of $650 a tonne to feed cotton seed or $1000 a tonne for lick, and a lack of feedlot space available, the short term outlook points to more supply pressure hitting markets in weeks ahead depending on if and where rain falls.
Charters Towers yarded 1295 cattle today, comprising 270 prime cattle and 1025 store cattle.
Henry Slaney from Slaney and Co said drying conditions were prompting some producers to push cattle into the local saleyard, but with strong live shipping activity from Townsville – where heavy steers for Vietnam are fetching $3/kg liveweight – many were preferring that option.
Indeed live export prices in the north have been defying the weakening trend in the saleyard market, climbing in recent weeks to 335c/kg liveweight for export feeder steers at Darwin.
However, without rain those price levels too are likely to be tested in coming weeks.
Northern Territory Livestock Exporters’ Association CEO Will Evans said all eyes in the north are on the weather.
“December was another strong month for cattle out of Darwin with around 40,000hd moving through the port. We saw the price creep up towards the end of the year and that’s continued into the start of this year.
“We’re continuing to see strong demand from South East Asia which is a positive sign for 2019.”
“At the moment there’s a lot of areas of the NT and North Queensland that are both dry and very hot. All eyes are on the weather forecast at the moment. If we don’t see some good rain soon in key areas the market is likely to adjust in line with cattle turnoff.”