PERSISTENT heavy rain, flooding and road closures across northern NSW and southern/Central Queensland have again impacted processing activity, as the 2021 season starts to draw to a close.
The national kill for the week ended Friday reached just over 90,000 head, its lowest full week (barring weeks impacted by public holidays) since January.
With some regional abattoir seasonal closures already happening in Northern and Central parts of the state, Queensland’s kill was dramatically impacted last week, falling another 16pc last week to less than 38,000 head. Queensland’s kill has been in steady decline for the past six weeks, having hit a recent high of 54,000 head back in mid-October.
Recent rain impact has only hastened that decline, with widespread reports of supply difficulty by processors this week, after similar challenges the week before.
With major arterial roads cut in several locations, some grainfed cattle on the western downs have been diverted to plants in Central Queensland for slaughter this week due to closures along the Condamine and MacIntyre Rivers. One alternative route being taken by western downs grainfed cattle has been north through Roma, Injune and Springsure to Rockhampton, avoiding the road closures.
One processor told Beef Central he had not seen grainfed cattle supply as disrupted as this since 2011. Some yards near Dalby are anticipating being cut off until at least the end of this week (see yesterday’s report).
With more rain forecast for parts of eastern Australia over the next seven days, it’s looking like kills will be disrupted through to the seasonal closures, mostly on 17 December or early the week following.
“We’ve got the remainder of our 2021 kill already bought,” one large export processor told Beef Central this morning. “Some of those are carry-over cattle that we couldn’t kill last week due to rain, but to be honest, it’s just a matter of whether we can get them to the plant now,” he said.
“It’s been a juggling act every day for the past ten days or so.”
In southern states, Victoria continues to gradually increase in numbers with spring turnoff, accounting for just over 13,000 head last week, it’s largest kill since the end of June. South Australia produced its largest kill for the year, processing 3530 head for the week, while Tasmania also showed the spring effect, processing 4167 head, it’s biggest number since late July.
Direct consignment grid prices are mostly unchanged this week, but most processors now appear to have closed their books for kills in the remainder of 2021.
Several are already talking with suppliers over kills slots for the opening states of 2022, but most are not yet offering prices behind that.
Rain impact will dictate heavily where the 2022 direct consignment grid offers start. Some anticipate the market will ease a little, so long as cattle access is not hampered by weather.
After a series of sharp rises a month ago, competitive export beef processors in southern Queensland are this week still offering a record 790-810c/kg on four-tooth heavy grass steer, up as much as 30c/kg on previous rates, and 750-775c/kg on heavy cows.
The NLRS over the hooks report for this week shows cow grids in Victoria topping at 740c/kg, with grown steers as much as 830c. In NSW, both heavy cows and heavy grass steers were making up to 730c/kg.
Most Christmas plant closure dates have now been finalised. JBS shut its Townsville plant for the season several weeks ago, with plans (weather permitting) to re-open on January 18. JBS Rockhampton’s last kill is 17 December, and Dinmore’s last kill is 16 December, returning to work on 14 January. Teys brought forward the closure of the company’s Biloela plant due to rain impact, completing its last kill last Wednesday. Lakes Creek will close 23 December, weather permitting, returning to work 23 January. Beenligh will kill through with a single shift, returning to double shifts January 8.