LIGHT rain in parts of NSW and Victoria, and the prospect of more in coming days, has contributed to a decline in access to slaughter cattle in most states.
Saturday killing and additional shifts that were common in southern Queensland beef plants a month ago are now gone, as flows of cattle tighten up.
The big inflows of southern slaughter cattle heading north to Queensland that were evident during May have slowed to a trickle, as both quality and quantity of southern cattle decline.
Despite that, last week’s eastern states kill reported by the National Livestock Reporting Service reached 149,444 head. The 12pc increase over the previous seven days was due mostly to the Monday public holiday observed in most states the previous week, rather than any lift in available numbers.
Falls of 15-30mm are forecast for large parts of central NSW and central Queensland in coming days, which is likely to hasten the rate of decline in cattle available for slaughter, either through direct consignment or saleyard. But unless larger than expected falls occur, benefit is likely to be limited more to crops rather than livestock production.
Despite that, larger Queensland processors spoken to for this report suggested they are still reasonably well covered for operations during the first two weeks of July, but access to killable cattle after that is inevitably going to decline, following the seasonal impact seen over the past six months. August and September are still shaping up as tight months for supply in Queensland and northern NSW.
The current adequate supply situation has seen meatworks grid prices remain unchanged across Queensland and northern NSW. Southeast Queensland processor grids seen this week had grassfed four-tooth heavy steers for kills in coming weeks at 450-470c depending on location, and heavy cows at 400-405c/kg.
Central Queensland pricing is typically 10c/kg behind those rates. Across the border, a large northern NSW export processor has offers for kills week commencing 2 July of 455c on four-tooth ox, and 390c on heavy cow.
Feeder steer prices have also found a level in recent weeks, with one large downs lotfeeder quoting 275c for heavy flatback feeder steers, unchanged for some weeks. Angus feeder steers are still attracting a big premium, worth around 320-325c/kg, with Angus branded beef orders to fill.