Cattle market cools in the heat

10 March 2016

The early stages of autumn are yet to offer any reprieve from the long, hot summer endured by most of the country and this has contributed to the eastern states cattle indicators cooling off this week.

Saleyard throughput this week certainly reflected the waning confidence in the season. The number offered at Dalby was up 70% from the previous week to 5,567 head and included cattle from South Australia and western NSW. A similar increase in offerings also occurred at TRLX Tamworth, Gunnedah, Dubbo and Shepparton, while Roma Store held steady at 6,000 head – which is still high in historic terms.

The greater numbers saw all eastern states daily indicators lose some ground for the week, with the Eastern Young Cattle Indicator (EYCI) easing 7¢, to 592.75¢/kg cwt. Heavy steers were on 521¢, down 12¢, while medium cows were back 8¢, at 456¢/kg cwt. It should be remembered though, that these prices are still significantly higher than where they were the same time last year, which was the infant stages of what became a historical surge.    

Despite the heat, but reflective of the considerably smaller cattle herd (lowest herd in 20 years at 26.2 million head), weekly slaughter continued to track well below year-ago levels. The eastern states indicative figure was 140,208 head, down 16% from the same week last year, and this is a trend that is sure to continue throughout the year.

On the export front, and beyond seasonal influences, imported US beef prices also faltered this week on the back of higher volumes on offer from NZ and a strengthening A$.

Coming weeks are likely to remain hotter and drier than usual, meaning the demand from restockers may wilt somewhat, while any further rise in the number of cattle on the market will be limited by the small herd.

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