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Domestic cow market moves into record territory

15 October 2020

Key points:

  • The domestic cow market has been supported in recent weeks by a subdued supply of breeding stock
  • Intensifying restocker and processor competition has exacerbated price lifts
  • Medium and heavy cow over-the-hooks indicators have moved into record territory

The domestic cow market has found support in recent weeks as favourable conditions in the southern states have promoted the retention of breeding stock and tightened supplies.  Prices have responded, with noticeable increases across both saleyard and over-the-hooks (OTH) indicators.

The National Livestock Reporting Service (NLRS) recorded only 6,500 head of cows yarded across NSW, Queensland and Victoria for the week ending 9 October. Compared to the same week last year, this equated to a 30% decline, largely reflecting heightened levels of stock retention, with fewer cows entering the store market.

For the week ending 16 October, the Queensland OTH Medium Cow Indicator averaged 545¢/kg carcase weight (cwt), 23% higher on year-ago levels and a record high for the state. The Queensland OTH Heavy Cow Indicator also reported a record high, increasing 22% year-on-year to average 570¢/kg cwt.

Last week, the store market reflected price increases seen in OTH indicators, with the Queensland Medium Cow Saleyard Indicator averaging 588¢/kg cwt, 33% higher year-on-year. While trading slightly below their northern counterpart, for the week ending 16 October, the NSW OTH Medium Cow Indicator was reported at a record 532¢/kg cwt, 24% above year-ago levels, while heavy cows increased 21% year-on-year to average 558¢/kg cwt.

Heightened competition between restockers and processors has also supported saleyard prices across the eastern states. The Eastern States Medium Cow Indicator was reported at 296¢/kg live weight (lwt), on Wednesday 14 October, an increase of 71¢ on the same week last year. Victoria reported the largest year-on-year increase in medium cow prices, lifting 83¢ to average 301¢/kg lwt, while NSW medium cows increased 77¢ to 299¢/kg lwt. Queensland medium cows were reported slightly below the southern states, however, increased 74¢ year-on-year to average 291¢/kg lwt.

© Meat & Livestock Australia Limited, 2020