Dry conditions taking toll on cattle markets

Beef Central, 26/10/2012

Dry conditions are taking an increasing toll on cattle markets across Australia, with prices falling for all categories at saleyards reported by MLA’s National Livestock Reporting Service over the past week.

A combination of dry spring weather, ample supplies of cattle to market, ongoing lacklustre demand conditions in export markets and a relatively high $A at US 103c continues to put pressure on livestock prices.

Reflecting the gradual nature of price decline in recent months, the Eastern Young Cattle Indicator now stands at its lowest level for more than two years, following a further 6c retraction this week.

Most of Australia has remained hot and dry in the past week, with producers growing more anxious for a much-needed spring break as pastures and feed reserves dry out.

The NLRS is reporting an increasing number of plain cattle entering saleyards as dry spring weather across much of the country takes its toll on quality.

Supplies to market this week eased by 2pc but the slight contraction did not stop the Eastern Young Cattle Indicator falling by 6c week-on-week to 347c/kg – its lowest point since winter 2010.

All cattle categories finished lower this week, with restocker buyers described as being very selective in purchases and lot feeders also operating at subdued levels, while processors remain active and paying higher prices to secure finished cattle.

The national trade steer indicator fell 8c on last week to average 348c/kg cwt, while medium steers dropped 11c to 319c/kg cwt. Heavy steers were unchanged on 335c/kg cwt, as cows fell a further 2c on last week, averaging 273c/kg cwt. Feeder steers slipped 3c, to finish the week averaging 184c/kg lwt.   

MLA says in today’s Meat & Livestock Weekly market report that the lower recent prices for young cattle is prompting some producers to retain stock where feed levels permit in the hope that late spring rain will boost demand heading into November.

Dramatically revised forecasts from the Bureau of Meteorology in recent weeks, which now suggests that a low-rainfall El Nino weather pattern is looking less likely this summer, is underpinning hopes that a positive November to January season will eventuate.


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