In focus: Northern NSW

12 November 2015

The northern districts of NSW (Northern Tablelands and Northern Rivers) have had a relatively average spring so far, with 100mm of widespread rain received in total for the August to October period. The season has recently shown signs of improvement, with 25-50mm of rain recorded across the region over the last week (Bureau of Meteorology).

Cattle supplies continued to contract across the eastern states in October, and consignments at the major selling centres in northern NSW were well-below year-ago levels. Compared to the same time last year, total cattle throughput in October was back 36% at Armidale, 31% at Casino and 39% at Inverell.

Quality across the saleyards remains mixed, reportedly due in part to producers taking advantage of the high prices and marketing their cattle earlier than usual. Armidale, in particular, has seen a higher percentage of D muscle scored stock yarded over the past few months compared to the corresponding period in 2014. The improvement in seasonal conditions and earlier turn-off of cattle has sparked increased competition from restocker and feeder buyers across the region.

Similar to most of the eastern states, saleyard prices across the northern NSW selling centres generally peaked in late September, fluctuated during October and have almost fully recovered in November so far, as confidence in the season and market picks up. This week;

  • C2 medium weight vealer steers to restockers at Casino reached 368¢ and averaged 331.1¢, up 19¢ week-on-week, while similar vealer heifers to slaughter averaged 302.1¢, back 4¢/kg lwt.
  • Yearling C2 steers weighing 280-330kg returned an average of 317.7¢ at Casino, 320.6¢ at Armidale, and 354.5¢/kg lwt at Inverell – all dearer on last week’s levels.
  • Feeder buyers at Inverell purchased 400-500kg grown steers between 290¢ and 315.2¢, averaging 307.3¢, while at Armidale they paid to a top of 326.2¢, an average of 315.2¢/kg lwt.
  • Heavy weight D muscled cows to processors eased slightly week-on-week, averaging 252¢ at both Armidale and Inverell, while those at Casino made 245.3¢/kg lwt.

BOM’s short term rainfall outlook forecasts widespread rainfall of 15-50mm for the region over the coming week, which is likely to further boost restocker confidence.

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