Weekly kill: Weather disruptions plague processing operations  

Jon Condon 30/01/2024

WEATHER continues to plague beef processing operations across Queensland this week, with the remnants of Cyclone Kirrilly delivering further heavy rain.

Plants across Central and Southern Queensland are struggling to maintain supply in the early stages of this week, and some said the impact is likely to last until mid-February.

There were massive falls of up to 200-250mm in parts of southeast Queensland overnight, on top of widespread heavy rain across large parts of central, western and southern Queensland last week following Cyclone Kirilly’s coast crossing on Friday (see yesterday’s weather wrap.)

Road and river crossing closures have followed across parts of the Darling Downs, southeast, western and central Queensland.  In areas where roads remain open, many paddocks are either under water or too wet to shift cattle, and will remain so for some time.

Feedlots – mostly located on all-weather roads – often form a handy stop-gap slaughter cattle supply when weather impacts arrive, but many Darling Downs feedyards were cut-off from processors closer to the coast due to road closures when this item was being prepared this morning, including the Warrego Highway near Condamine and Warra.

Properties in and around McKinlay and Kynuna in Queensland’s northwest were inundated with 400-500mm of rain since Saturday. The Flinders Highway — the major arterial route connecting Mt Isa and Townsville – was closed this morning near McKinlay. Ex-Tropical Cyclone Kirrily will remain over western Queensland for the next couple of days, the Bureau forecasts.

Some Queensland beef processors have already declared closures for days this week, while others are uncertain about raising kills between now and Friday, and potentially into next week.

Several said without further rain, it could still be mid-February before operations gets back to normal.

“We’re managing to plug holes through cancellations with a few other cattle, including grainfeds, but this week looks very challenging,” one southeast Queensland export processor said this morning.

Wet weather money about

Some processors have thrown out ‘wet weather money’ this week in direct consignment offers in a bid to lift interest, but most admitted they are struggling to maintain kills for this week.

Some Queensland grids lifted another 20c/kg yesterday, while other competitors are reconsidering their current positions tonight.

Best offers seen for kills in southern Queensland this morning included 520c/kg on heavy cows, and 575c/kg on four-tooth heavy grass ox, with an implant. Others remain at 490c on heavy cows, and 560c on four-tooth steer, but are considering options this evening.

Best Central Queensland offers are on par with those numbers, or 10c/kg behind.

“Whether it delivers any response in bookings is another thing,” one multi-site processor said this morning. “It gets to a point where it’s impossible to attract numbers for logistical reasons, regardless of how much money is on offer.”

Southern grids seen this morning, are less impacted by current weather. One southern NSW processor had rates this morning of 530c on heavy cows and 580c on four-tooth steer, while processors in eastern parts of South Australia were around 30c behind those rates, offering 550c the ox and 510c on good cows.

Northern processors head south to fill holes

Processors across the border in northern NSW appear to be much less affected this week, with both Northern Cooperative Meat Co at Casino and Bindaree Beef at Inverell only lightly affected (supply-wise) by recent weather.

Several large Queensland processors have already headed south to chase slaughter cattle to truck home, convinced that northern supply will be challenged to some extent, for the next week, at least.

This morning’s NVLX Wodonga sale offering 2400 head saw fierce competition from a substantial group of processor buyers, driving heavy steers and bullock prices up by 40c/kg and more in certain instances. In the cow market, a significant influx of processor buyers vied for well-finished heavy cows, propelling prices to a price gain of another 16c/kg.

Heavy cows were traded at prices ranging from 270c to 299c/kg.

The weekly Tuesday Roma store sale was almost halved in numbers this week, with only 2900 yarded due to weather. Both cows and heavy steers trended dearer, as processors chased numbers to support kills.




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  1. Paul Franks, 30/01/2024

    They might find more cattle if they offered decent money.

    They were paying over $6/kg in 2019.

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