Eastern cattle buyers raid WA for scarce stock

James Nason, 18/02/2020


Demand for cattle to restock paddocks in Queensland and New South Wales following recent February rains is now reaching across the Nullabor as restockers and lot feeders scour the country for supply options.

WA livestock manager for Nutrien Leon Giglia told Beef Central buying inquiry began flowing through the company’s private networks from eastern States buyers late last week.

Leon Giglia

“It is just starting,” he said.

“The actual participation of east coast in the market started late last week, and it is from pastoral cattle to southern bred cattle to breeding females that are suitable to truck.”

Not so long ago young cattle prices in WA were outpacing rates being paid in eastern states.

However the strength of demand following recent rain, and a dearth of available cattle in eastern states after successive years of drought and destocking, has pushed prices to heights now prompting buyers to run the numbers on buying cattle in WA and paying the hundreds of dollars per head required to truck them east.

While critical to emphasise these figures would vary dramatically depending on distances and actual starting and end points, conversations with a range of sources suggest freight rates of 70-80c/kg are in the vicinity of what would be required to transport cattle from WA to eastern States.

Prices in WA for 400kg flat back steers suitable for restockers or lot feeders have traded in the 280-300c/kg liveweight range in recent weeks, but gained 20c/kg last week as additional eastern competition joined the market.

By comparison the eastern states market has seen dramatic rises in recent weeks with some feedlots offering 400-420c/kg for 300kg-480kg Angus and 385c for similar weight flatback steers, as reported by Beef Central on Friday.

WA livestock transporters Beef Central spoke with on Monday also confirmed that inquiry from the east had begun and consignments were already being booked for eastern states delivery.

WA’s own herd numbers are also back due to dry conditions and recent destocking, across the bottom half of the State in particular.



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