Weekly kill: Throughput remains close to season-high levels

Jon Condon, 29/05/2018

RATES of slaughter across eastern Australian remained close to season-highs last week, as cattle flow forced by dry weather continues.

The National Livestock Reporting Service logged a five-state kill for the week ended Friday of 147,171 head for the week ended Friday – just a few B-doubles short of the season-high kill recorded the week before.

Saturday kills were staged at some large Queensland sheds again last weekend, reflecting the current strong flow of cattle caused by the weather. Despite that, northern processors remain fairly current, with adequate bookings evident for next week, but still plenty of slots to fill for week commencing June 11, beef Central was told.

Strong saleyards buying activity at present by large processors supports that. The overall reduction in herd size means that even when cattle start to flow, as they currently are, they do not flood the market as has been seen in the past.

An observation in the market this week is the number of cattle that continue to flow out of southern regions for slaughter across the border in Queensland. Unusually, there also signs of numbers heading out of Queensland in the opposite direction. Normally cross-region flows of slaughter cattle like that happen only when one region is considerably cheaper than the other, allowing a freight cost of 15-25c/kg to be factored-in to the purchase price.

Currently though, it’s the poorer cows and break-up ox that are heading north in big numbers, out of centres like Dubbo, Wagga, Barnawartha and Carcoar, and earlier, as far as Leongatha in the Gippsland, while a shortage of better quality younger killable steers in southern regions because of the conditions is pulling better quality Queensland cattle in the other direction (weighed Roma).

In many plants north and south, larger numbers of PTIC cows are evident in rosters, reflecting just how bad conditions have become in some areas this year.

For some descriptions, saleyards might be just a little ahead of direct consignment price-wise at present, but when additional yards costs are factored in, there’s probably not a lot in it, buyers said.

With cold weather forecast in some areas later this week, first frosts may have some impact on pastures, which typically flushes a few more cattle out leading up to, and just after the end of financial year.

Major processors from southern to North Queensland continue to report solid inflows of cows off the Barkly Tableland and northwest, as conditions continue to dry off in the region.

Grids remain basically unchanged

Slaughter grids across large parts of eastern Australia remained unchanged again last week, with offers for southern Queensland slaughter in coming weeks, seen this morning, showing 470-475c on four-tooth grassfed heavy steer and best cows 410-415c. Central Queensland plants are typically 10c/kg behind that, and North Queensland 20-25c less on most descriptions.

Across the border, a large northern NSW export processor has offers for kills week commencing 18 June of 455c on four-tooth ox, and 390c on heavy cow.

Grainfed money has also remained fairly stable, with spot price on 100-day ox around 525-535c in the market from competitive grids this week, for kills during June.

Queensland’s kill last week was unchanged from the week before, at 78,563 head, still up 10pc on this time last year. NSW recorded a tally of just short of 34,000 head for the second consecutive week, up 7pc year-on-year, while Victoria’s kill at just short of 25,000 head was down 1pc on the previous week, but  +20pc on this time last year due to drought.

South Australia remains heavily impacted by the TFI Murray Bridge plant closure due to fire, being down 36pc on this time last year, at 4963 head, while Tasmania’s kill was +3pc year-on-year at 4871 head.

Speculation continues to circulate about prospects for short-term plant closures during the anticipated difficult cattle supply period during August-September.


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