Resurgent flow in cattle numbers as spring rain relief remains elusive

Jon Condon, 14/10/2014

A REDUCED Eastern States slaughter number last week caused by Public Holiday closures in some states has masked an underlying upwards trend in slaughter cattle flows.

MSA grading 3 - CopyThe NLRS weekly kill for the seven days ended Saturday produced a tally of 155,385 head – back 9pc on the previous weekly cycle and the lowest kill seen since the Queen’s Birthday holiday weekend back in early June.

If anything, the lull in last week’s kill seen in most states bar Victoria, where the holiday is celebrated earlier, has re-invigorated slaughter cattle supply this week.

Toowoomba’s twin prime sales yesterday were both up in numbers – one registering one of its biggest yardings for the year – while Forbes yesterday fell a little, but only because of local rain disruptions. Roma store sale today was drawing for around 6500 head, its largest sale in some weeks.

Direct consignment slaughter cattle flows are also trending the same way, driven by the further absence of any decent spring rain relief, and little sign of it on the short or longer-term weather horizon.

Large export sheds in southeast Queensland reported solid bookings of direct consignment slaughter cattle this morning, both the bullock and the cow, from across the state, and into NSW and northwestern regions.

Several processors made the point that kill slots were again starting to fill-up two or three weeks ahead, after a period where suppliers could basically take their pick of slots over the last six weeks.

“People are ringing again, looking for space, and some big lines – 24, 30 and up to 36 decks out of the west in some placements,” one livestock manager said. “They’ve made the decision to move, given what the weather is doing.”

Another aspect of concern is that Christmas plant closures are now only nine full weeks away, suggesting kill space might become harder to find if things stay dry. Added to that, there is a heavy turnoff of grainfed cattle anticipated through late-November and into December, which given their time-sensitive nature (DOF), will take priority over grassfeds.

Rain, in any decent quantity, would greatly reduce any prospect of a log-jam heading into Christmas closures, but it’s hard to be optimistic about that prospect at present.

A sure sign that numbers are gathering again is a decision by several large SEQ export sheds to postpone their upcoming butcher’s picnic gazetted holidays, and add them on to the Christmas closure, in order to better manage the numbers of cattle coming forward.

Last week’s Eastern States kill report saw Queensland’s throughput down 9pc on the week before, to 74,519 head. That’s the lowest weekly throughout in four months, due to Monday holiday plant closures, but was still +9pc on this time last year.

NSW was back 16pc at 35,191 head (still +9pc on last year), while Victoria, where the Labour Day holiday was not celebrated, was again near all-time weekly throughput records at 32,390 head, up 1pc on the week previous. The pace of kills in Victoria is perhaps becoming a little easier to understand as the state starts to drift into its normal high-season turnoff period, but that does nothing to explain the extraordinary kills of the past few months.

South Australia was also much the same at 9881 head (+1pc), while the holiday badly impacted on Tasmania’s performance, back 27pc at 3404 head.


Grids remain unchanged

Public grids for southeast Queensland export processors remain unchanged again this week, with the exception of a couple of specialist lines. For example Teys has PCAS-eligible MSA steer even higher than what it was, at 450c/kg for November-December delivery for the northern supply.

This week, expect to see SEQ direct consignment quotes around 400c/kg for milk and two-tooth grassfed Jap ox; 395c/kg for four-tooth ox; 390c/kg for six-tooth; 380c for eight-tooth and best cows 370c/kg. For the more specialised lines, best EU steer are currently worth 430c, and 425c for MSA grassfed steer.




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