Weekly kill: Grid offers steady, in face of some saleyards uplifts

Jon Condon, 14/11/2023

EVIDENCE of an upswing in saleyards prices for young cattle and occasional slaughter descriptions has not transferred into direct consignment grid price movements since this month’s rain across parts of NSW, Queensland and Victoria.

There’s been a marked lift in young cattle values via the saleyards system, as evidenced by yesterday’s report on a 50c/kg dressed weight rise in the Eastern Young Cattle Indicator since late October. Much of that was coming off a very low base, however.

Likewise, there have been isolated lifts in some slaughter cattle prices over the past seven days, with reports of heavy cows making as much as 220c/kg liveweight at Dalby sale last Wednesday.

Part of that appears to be driven by smaller processors that are more saleyards-dependent chasing cows for orders. There have been a number of reports of frozen cow beef quarter export orders in recent weeks.

But given the modest volume of recent rain, it’s evident that much of the saleyards price movement is being driven by a little renewed optimism over prospects for a more normal wet season ahead, rather than any real prospects for pasture growth, at this stage.

Most of the positive benefit appears to be in delivering a little hope to producers who were growing increasingly alarmed about the seasonal outlook.

“It’s great for producer sentiment, but they’ll need more in the next few weeks to have any real impact on pasture conditions,” one large multi-site processor said this morning.

BOM suggests another rain episode is due to pass through Eastern Australia from around 18-19 November, but again, the colour map suggests falls are only likely to be light, and limited to eastern parts of NSW and QLD.

The feeder cattle market has also shown some advances over the past seven days, with one large Queensland operator offering 240c/kg for flatback heavy feeders delivered this week – up 10c on where they sat earlier. Plenty of heavy flatback feeder steers were trading around 220c/kg only two or three weeks ago, Beef Central was told.

There had been a handful of slaughter cattle suppliers who had cancelled space bookings for the next few weeks before the Christmas plant closure break due to rain, but those spaces had filled just as quickly with others looking for a slot, one large multi-site operator said.

Another said several consignments had been delayed due to local isolated rain last week, but would re-appear in coming weeks.

Most Queensland processors are still well-subscribed for the remaining five weeks of 2023 season operations.

Several processors have unusual Saturday shifts planned for this Saturday, 18 November, to help clear some backlog, especially for producers in northern NSW and southern/Central QLD who have lost country to fires.

Direct consignment booking spaces remain very tight through to the end of the year, with space bookings only on offer for the opening stages of 2024.

Grid prices unchanged

While there have been a few ‘plus 10c’ offers thrown around early this week to get things moving, the official direct consignment offers from large Southern Queensland processors this week still has four-tooth grass heavy steer with an implant from 415-440c (some offers 10c higher for HGP-free cattle) and heavy boner cows 355-360c/kg.

Some Queensland operators are again not offering quotes at all this week, happy with their current bookings through to Christmas closure. Central Queensland operators remain on the same rates as processors in southern parts of the state, or 10c behind, while North Queensland is 25c behind the southern regions of the state.

Southern states processor offers are also little changed this week, although some operators were considering their options this morning.

In eastern parts of South Australia, active quotes this week have four-tooth grass ox on 415c/kg, and 360c/kg on heavy cows, while southern NSW has PR grass steers on 395c/kg and 300c on cows, although the cow demand is currently limited, at best.




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