Beef kill rises again to near-record levels

Jon Condon, 28/05/2013


A procurement push north by some southern meatworks operators may partly explain another near-record weekly beef kill across Eastern Australia last week.

Despite slightly smaller rates of kill in Queensland and NSW last week – the two largest processing states, which tend to ‘bend’ the overall Eastern States weekly trend – a big lift in throughput in Victoria saw total numbers rise to 157,700 head for the week ended Friday.

That’s only 300 shy of the all-time Eastern States kill record set a few weeks earlier.

Victoria’s meatworks throughput jumped 11 percent last week to 24,201 head – up 20pc on this time last year. Importantly, the rise did not come on top of a slow week the week before.

Part of the increase can be explained by a rise in Victorian saleyards numbers, but sources also say some Victorian processors are pushing north to source slaughter stock, knowing that they will not encounter strong competition from NSW or Qld processors already killing at close to capacity.

“Numbers are so plentiful in NSW and Qld that Victorian operators are sucking them south,” a processor source said yesterday. “At current processor margins, that additional transport cost is much less of an issue,” he said.

“Southern processors always get short at this time of year, but unlike previous years, they are probably making a buck in transporting slaughter cattle longer distances this year. Additionally, the processor competition in NSW and Queensland have so many bookings in front of them that they are not overly concerned about it. They’re not treading on each others’ toes.”

In contrast to Victoria, Queensland’s kill last week was back 2pc to 82,514 head (still 23pc higher than this week a year ago); while NSW was -1pc at 36,830 head.

South Australia and Tasmania both followed the Victorian trend upwards, rising 6pc to 8886 head, and 11pc to 5269 head respectively.


Saleyard numbers vary…

Victorian saleyards cattle supply increased by 10pc last week at markets reported by MLA’s National Livestock Reporting Service, despite less than half the state’s selling centres yarding more cattle. Quality, or rather the lack of it, was once again noticed at nearly every centre.

In NSW, rain had some impact on saleyard numbers last week, back 30pc at NLRS-reported markets. The larger selling centres of Wagga and Dubbo together with CTLX Carcoar and Gunnedah all recorded significant rainfall, with Wagga and Dubbo slipping 35pc to 45pc, respectively. The markets in the Hunter region defied the trend to yard more cattle, with Scone supply increasing 20pc. The northern sales of Casino and Armidale along with Inverell all penned fewer cattle.

In Queensland, saleyards numbers last week remained basically unchanged, but first frosts along the southern border region lifted numbers in that area. A lack of numbers and the prediction of more rain caused the cancellation again of Longreach and Blackall sales. Buyer attendance at most markets improved with the Roma store sale attracting buyers from across a wide area of Qld, NSW and Victoria. Agents were drawing for less than 5000 head at Roma store sale this morning.


Grids unchanged

Southeast Queensland public grid prices sourced by Beef Central yesterday suggest there has been very little, if any movement in rates over the past seven days.

Quotes included four-tooth grassfed ox 285-290c/kg, milk and two teeth 295-300c, best cow 235-250c/kg. Grassfed MSA steer showed a wide spread from 305c-340c from major processors.  

EU steer price ex SEQ also sat at 340c/kg this week – down a little from earlier rates, because Australia is now supplying into the new EU quota year, with a little less pressure on processors racing to fill quota late in the 2012-13 quota period. At one point, EU reached 370c/kg earlier in the year, but is still strong in the context of other market segments.

  • The Eastern Young Cattle Indicator closed yesterday at 295.5c/kg liveweight, up an encouraging 9.5c on this time a week ago.  





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