February cattle indicators decline as northern supply lifts

16 March 2017

In February, all major north Queensland saleyard cattle indicators averaged lower than January levels – with a delayed influx of supply resulting in cheaper trends throughout major selling centres.

Compared to the same time last year, however, major indicator categories varied in February. The north Queensland light steer and grassfed bullock indicators declined 16¢ and 2¢ year-on-year, at 304¢ and 280¢, respectively. However, the restocker steer and medium cow indicators strengthened marginally – up 2¢ and 3¢, to 342¢ and 229¢/kg lwt, respectively.  

Substantial rainfall in many regions throughout January caused a slight delay in northern cattle availability, which subsequently saw saleyard throughput in February increase 38% month-on-month. North Queensland weekly cattle yardings averaged just over 5,300 head in February – underpinned by larger offerings at both Charters Towers and CQLX Gracemere.

The north Queensland over-the-hook indicators began February dearer than the month prior – with tighter availability from the previous month an underlining factor. As the month progressed, however, and with the reopening of additional northern plants, average prices followed the seasonal declining trend. This week (17th March), the north Queensland medium and heavy steer indicators averaged 491¢ and 501¢, respectively, while medium cows finished 8¢ lower week-on-week, at 423¢/kg cwt.

Despite picking up in recent weeks, north Queensland weekly cattle slaughter declined 2% year-on-year in February, averaging 13,000 head.

On the international demand side in February, northern live export indicators declined steadily throughout the month across most major regions. Last week (10 March), feeder steers delivered to Darwin averaged just over 360¢, while heifer portions in the same category averaged just shy of 340¢/kg lwt. Townsville delivered feeder steer indicators settled at 310¢, with most slaughter types averaging close to 285¢/kg lwt. 

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