Weekly kill: Downwards slaughter cattle price trend continues

Jon Condon, 19/03/2024

DIRECT consignment slaughter cattle prices continued their recent downwards trend this week, with some Queensland offers on export weight steers and cows down another 20-40c/kg, as supply outstrips demand.

The upcoming succession of short processing weeks, with Easter followed soon after by May Day and ANZAC Day, mean some Queensland processors will lose four and even five days’ kill out of a seven-week window.

A national Telstra mobile outage this morning (see details below) made data collection difficult for today’s report, but here’s what we’ve been able to establish.

Competitive southern Queensland processors are this morning offering 450-470c/kg on heavy cows and 520c/kg on heavy four-tooth grass steers (some operators 10c/kg more for no HGP).

Some of those rates are back from 20-40c in several adjustments on this time last week, when prices were already on the slide. Central Queensland offers are 10c behind those quotes.

Even at those rates, some operators said they were ‘going very, very steady,’ with a series of short killing weeks ahead due to public holidays and plenty of cattle in the system.

Some Queensland processors are limiting current priced offers to kills week commencing 8 April, with kill-space only (no price attached) for the following week forward.

Others have again withdrawn from making direct consignment offers this week.

Congestion and capacity are playing a big part in the current market dynamics, and processors are clearly pushing up against a labour threshold again, as kills rise. One large processor said odd Saturday shifts were being introduced, where possible, at his company’s southern Queensland facility in coming weeks to try to soak up some of the over-supply.

Some Queensland processors said they had bought a lot of saleyards cattle last week that ‘they did not really need or want,’ but were purchased simply on price. ‘Worthwhile’ cows transacted at Roma sale this morning at the equivalent of 390-410c/kg dressed weight (details below).

Lowest rates since October market confidence slump

These are the lowest over the hooks rates reported since the depths of the ‘panic’ period over weather outlook in October last year.

But even at current levels, processors are clearly wary about committing to a price too far forward, for fear of being left with cattle that ultimately look ‘expensive’ come mid or late April.

It’s a different story in southern Australia, where cattle supply has dried up somewhat over the past week (see saleyards highlights below), leaving direct grids in south Australia and southern NSW unchanged this week.

Saleyards numbers well down

Saleyard numbers were generally in sharp decline early this week, in response to the previous week’s big falls in prices.

Roma sale yarded 6070 this morning, down about 30pc in numbers on last week. Grown steers over 600kg made to 276c/kg to processors. The best of the heavy bulls to 244c with bulls under 450kg sold to 346c/kg. Full report tomorrow, once selling is completed.

Gunnedah numbers this morning were almost halved to just 1260 head, down from 2240 last Tuesday. A small number of heavy grown steers sold to cheaper trends. In a case where supply could not satisfy processor demand the cow market defied recent trends to be 10-12c/kg dearer, in the market with the greatly reduced supply impacting average quality.

Wodonga yarded only 1070 head in a smaller yarding this morning, causing prices to surge across all categories. In the export market, heavy grown steers and bullocks saw increases of 30c to 40c/kg, selling between 270c and 316c/kg. Cow buyers were active, leading to a notable uptick of 16-25c/kg across the board. Heavy cows were priced between 224c and 245ckg, while leaner types ranged from 189c to 205c/kg.

Naracoorte yarded only 600 head this morning, Most of the usual buyers were present but not all operated fully in a dearer market in places across the yarding. Heavy cows sold from 210-250c/kg and medium weights from 168-186c/kg.

Telstra connectivity issues

Telstra customers across Australia reported widespread mobile phone network and internet issues this morning – Beef Central among them.

By Noon, more than 1900 customers reported issues on the DownDetector website, saying their calls and internet had been impacted.

“Phone will allow to ring and then cut out saying call failed,” one customer reported. “Doing it on inbound and outbound calls.”

Other customers reported being able to make phone calls, but no voice coming through when connected.

A Telstra spokesperson confirmed the provider was experiencing issues with its network.

“We’re looking into an issue affecting some mobile calls,” the spokesperson said. “We’re working on a fix and hope to get everything back up and running soon.”

Telstra later contacted Beef Central, suggesting the problems were specific to phone networks – not internet/data. Telstra provided the following statement:

The issue impacting mobile voice calls was fixed at around 2.30pm AEDT.

There was no impact to data or 000 calls.

The issue was caused by a software change and was fixed by rolling that back.

We’re sorry for the impact on people’s days.









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