MLA: Drought expands through January, sales increase

Beef Central, 04/02/2014

Rainfall during January was only ‘average’ at best for the eastern states, with around 50pc of Queensland recording ‘below average’, to ‘very much below average’ rain in what is usually the wettest month of the year.

Similarly, large swathes of NSW also registered ‘very much below average’ rainfall, with some parts even recording the ‘lowest on record’, while the southern districts of Victoria had ‘below average’ falls. Accentuating the very low rainfall was scorching conditions across almost every state, with runs of days exceeding 40 degrees commonplace.

This continued what has been an exceptionally dry period for eastern Australia, with southern NSW and Victoria recording ‘very much below average’ for the past six months, while the equivalent decile range was recorded for northern NSW and Queensland for the past 12 months.

Underpinned by the dry conditions, the Eastern Young Cattle Indicator averaged 285.88¢/kg cwt in January – 11pc lower than the average for the final month of 2013, and down 10pc year-on-year, with the trend unlikely to reverse without any significant seasonal improvements. 

In contrast, the excellent run in seasonal fortunes for WA, particularly in the north, continued in January, with the majority of the state receiving ‘very much above average’ rainfall. The southern extremities, however, had mostly ‘below average’ rainfall, for what has also been an extended dry period.

National cattle throughput rises in Jan, higher proportion of lightweight sales

National cattle supply for January at markets reported by MLA’s NLRS was up 15pc year-on-year, with almost all states recording higher throughput, underpinned by the prolonged hot and dry conditions across the eastern states pressuring producers to offload stock.

Furthermore, consignments are reported to have a larger proportion of lightweight young cattle, particularly in the vealer and yearling categories, while grown cattle numbers have increased substantially in NSW and Queensland.

Usually, Queensland and northern NSW receive good summer rainfall throughout January, however, as this has failed to eventuate this year, young cattle supply in NSW jumped 43pc, while grown cattle lifted by over 50pc year-on-year. Queensland young cattle throughput increased 16pc, consisting mostly of yearling steers, while grown cattle throughput remained similar with the previous year, at approximately 10,800 head. Young cattle numbers offered in Victoria remained firm year-on-year (14,500 head), while grown cattle supply slipped 12pc year-on-year.

SA young and grown cattle throughput declined 13pc and 17pc year-on-year, respectively, while WA penned 22pc more young cattle, and at the same time, old cattle numbers increased two-fold, despite the majority of the state recording ‘above average’ January rainfall.

Source: Meat & Livestock Australia


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