In focus: Central and Northern Queensland

19 November 2015

Most of central and northern Queensland remains affected by drought, although this week has seen patchy but widespread storms across some of the eastern parts and most of the Cape, which brought up to 50mm of rain, while the north-western regions remained dry. Rainfall for the August to October period totalled 2-10mm over the majority of the region, while south-eastern parts of central Queensland measured heavier falls of 10-50mm.

Cattle supply continues to tighten across the region, with total October saleyard throughput for Emerald (6,626 head) and CQLX Gracemere (10,900 head) back 36% and 28%, respectively, month-on-month.

Cattle offered at Emerald, despite some showing effects of the dry conditions, have been of fair to good quality, while a large proportion yarded at CQLX Gracemere have presented in plainer condition. Quality at Charters Towers has been mixed, with reports of producers turning off store conditioned cattle to take advantage of higher cattle prices.

The proportion of restocker purchases at CQLX Gracemere in October increased 5% year-on-year, following reasonable rainfall in the area, while Emerald has seen a 10% decline in cattle bought by restockers but increased competition from feeder buyers.

Most of the young store stock purchased at Charters Towers has been reportedly put onto feed to meet live export specifications, with reduced processor enquiry. There has been very little local restocker competition in recent weeks, however some buyers from central Queensland have been operating.

Saleyard prices across the region in November have recovered October’s losses, and are at similar levels to the peak in September. Over the past week:

  • D2 calves sold to restockers at Emerald and CQLX Gracemere for an average of 299.4¢ and 283.1¢, respectively, while E1 calves at Charters Towers returned 274.3¢/kg lwt.
  • Light yearling heifers to restockers averaged 244.4¢ at Emerald, while heavy weights to feed earned 293.8¢, and medium weights to restockers at both Charters Towers and CQLX Gracemere returned 264.7¢ and 295.3¢/kg lwt, respectively.
  • Light D2 cows to processors were 5¢ cheaper week-on-week at Emerald on 211.7¢, medium weight D4 cows at CQLX Gracemere slipped 4¢ to average 247.6¢, while light D2 cows to restockers in Charters Towers reached 190¢ and averaged 165.5¢/kg lwt.

According to the Bureau of Meteorology’s latest 3 month rainfall outlook, for December 2015 to February 2016, rainfall across central Queensland is forecast to be average to above average, while northern Queensland has a higher chance of a drier summer period.

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