Stockpiling for the annual Christmas holiday closure and some 'heroic' efforts to get cattle to market after wet weather may explain a late season flurry of processing activity last week.
Despite earlier weather disruptions and a general tightness in cattle supply, last week’s national kill rose across all Eastern states bar Tasmania, to post a tally of 133,549 head – a 3 percent rise on a week earlier.
More substantial rain across the eastern states, particularly Queensland, restricted supply from some regions, however processors in many cases managed to raise kills from alternate sources.
There were no significant changes reported in southeast Queensland grid prices offered by either Teys or JBS last week, and one source said there were no further adjustments expected this year.
The recent rain has triggered a strong rise in confidence among producers looking to buy growing or replacement breeding cattle, however, after a deterioration in seasonal conditions across large areas of western and northern Queensland and northern NSW during November.
Large areas of the Maranoa, southwest, Central Highlands and Northwestern Queensland have now received 100-200mm in the past fortnight, setting country up nicely for the summer growing season.
Following on from the rain-affected NSW saleyards numbers the week before last, major NSW markets last week offered larger yardings, resulting in the state saleyard total climbing 31pc. The only exceptions were Armidale and Singleton, both impacted by further rain.
Wet weather hampered supply in Queensland saleyards last week, with numbers at physical markets covered by NLRS falling 15pc. However there was a large variation from centre to centre depending on when and where the rain fell. Supply increased at Toowoomba, and numbers jumped at the Roma store sale due to the majority of cattle being trucked to the sale before 45mm of rain fell across the local area. Most consignments were from the local supply area and south-west parts of the state with large consignments of cows from the NT.
However by mid-week the rain resulted in a large dip in supply at Dalby, and the continuing rain in the west cancelled the Roma prime sale.
In Victoria, with the Christmas/New Year holiday period quickly approaching, saleyards supply increased 17pc. All markets except for Camperdown had larger numbers. Wodonga, Pakenham and Shepparton accounted for well over half of the cattle offered.
The desire by many northern processors to ‘stockpile’ some beef for the rapidly approaching Christmas/New Year break saw the three largest eastern states all recorded lifts in processing numbers last week.
Qld tally up 3pc
Queensland’s kill rose 3pc to 68,313 head. Sensing the approaching seasonal closure in northern plants, some producers put in ‘heroic’ efforts to get cattle to plants last week. Many had been held up earlier by rain disruptions.
Some larger players, including northern pastoral companies, have worked hard in the past fortnight trying to get some killable cattle out – partly as insurance against another event like that seen in early 2011 when an extended period of supply difficulty occurred.
Last week’s Queensland kill tally was a little surprising, given that some regional seasonal closures had already started. Teys Biloela did its last shift for 2011 last Thursday, for example.
Teys Lakes Creek will finish this Thursday (Dec 15), and Beenleigh on Thursday week (Dec 22), subject to rain disruptions. The standard four-week seasonal and maintenance closure will apply across the Teys Australia northern plants.
Most of the Queensland cattle supply this week is coastal, eastern and northern NSW in origin, with major processors reporting that northern, northwestern and channel country cattle have now finished. There have already been some ‘huge’ cancellations in livestock bookings reported for this week and next due to rain.
So long as supply keeps coming, JBS Dinmore is still aiming to complete nine shifts this week, which could be aided by a seven-day forecast suggesting Queensland should have a drier run for the remainder of this week and early next. At this stage, and barring rain disruptions, most large southern Queensland plants plan to close their season around December 22.
The NSW weekly kill last week also lifted 4pc 31,875 head, still 6pc below this time last year, while Victoria’s kill jumped 4pc to 20,472 after a slower week the week before. Victoria was still 9pc below this time last year.
South Australia’s kill also lifted, up 3pc to 9130 while Tasmania went against the trend, easing 5pc to 3759 head.
The NLRS Eastern States Young Cattle Indicator closed yesterday at 410.75c/kg, up 3.75c on a week ago. The figure is the highest December EYCI number on record, reflecting the unusual strength in the cattle market so late in the season. The heavy steer indicator (196.2c) was -2c on a week earlier, and medium cows (152.7c) were -2c.