Saleyards see significant price drops as EYCI slides to 616c

Eric Barker, 12/05/2023

Click to enlarge

SALEYARD prices across the eastern states have been written in red ink this week, with an increase in supply blamed for a significant drop in the market.

The benchmark Eastern Young Cattle Indicator has dropped to 616.76c/kg carcase weight this week, which is down 29.95c on last week and a far cry from this time last year when it was a near-record 1081.98c.

As reported in Beef Central’s Weekly Kill earlier this week, the price of direct consignment slaughter cattle has been on a similar trajectory, dropping 15-20c this week.

The increase in supply has been put down to several factors including a big frost damaging pastures, already dry weather in parts, higher herd numbers and a run of public holidays creating a backlog.

Meat & Livestock Australia analyst Ripley Atkinson told Beef Central this week’s yarding has been the second largest this year, with last week’s being the largest.

“Supply is the driving factor in this market and sustained numbers across all saleyards for two weeks has put prices under pressure,” Mr Atkinson said.

“If these numbers continue for the remainder of May, then pressure on price will be sustained. April is always a tricky month with the public holidays and it is not unusual to see an increase in numbers in May. This year it has been a bit more pronounced, because this April we had our shortest working week since April 2017.”

Restocker prices have taken a big hit, with the MLA report, dropping 39.42c to 613.52c. Mr Atkinson said this was a show of how much numbers had built up in the past two years.

“With the retention of females, the improved genetics people have invested in and more even lines of cattle out of calf-drops – the necessity to go the yards and compete is not there because people already have numbers on farm,” he said.

“Restockers can be a lot more selective now and we are seeing that – good quality cattle with weight finish are still making good money and anything that is in plainer condition or are a bit light aren’t performing as well.”

Noticeable drop in prices

Many in New South Wales say the past fortnight has been a tough one at the saleyards. Including Ray White livestock agent Scott Simshauser, who spoke to Beef Central earlier in the week about oats crops.

He said it was evident buyers were becoming more discerning on quality, which has not been the case for the past three years, with the area coming out of drought and competing in a record restocker market.

“We still have some lower-quality cattle around here and they are getting a bit hard to market,” he said.

“As numbers have increased, it is evident buyers are determined to buy quality cattle and they are focused on a certain criteria. We saw some evidence of that at today’s Tamworth Store Sale, which had a solid finish for the week. However, there wasn’t many bright for the inferior-quality cattle.”

Season hanging in the balance

Dalby has been one of the yards to see a significant increase in numbers in past week and a corresponding drop in prices. Eastern Rural livestock sales manager Wyatt Wrigley said there has been a flood of cows come on the market after a dry finish in the summer.

“A big part of Qld has become pretty dry and if cows are heavy or empty people seem to be offloading them,” Mr Wrigley said.

“I believe the number of cows will slow up a bit and we will see that market pick up again. I don’t think it will get any dearer than it was, but it would be good to see a fat cow back making 250-260c in five-or-six weeks’ time.

“Numbers in-general have picked up as well, I don’t they are back to pre-drought levels around our area, but there is definitely more continuity of supply around here.”

Mr Wrigley said a lot of oats crops had been planted across Northern NSW and Southern Qld – which could use a drink.

“There’s also a lot of country that is ready for oats and if we were lucky enough to get 50-100mm of rain it would help the restocker market considerably,” he said.

“But at this stage the oats paddocks are looking pretty slim.”

Mr Wrigley has this week driven from Dalby to Longreach and said the central west of Qld has had a far better season than the south.

“They have had a good season up here, although it was fairly late and they definitely have enough feed to maintain the stock they have,” he said.

“But I can’t see them buying back big numbers.”


Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Your comment will not appear until it has been moderated.
Contributions that contravene our Comments Policy will not be published.


  1. GRAEME, 12/05/2023


Get Beef Central's news headlines emailed to you -