In focus: South-west Western Australia – Muchea & Katanning

26 November 2015


Similar to much of the south-east of Australia, south-western WA is having a drier and hotter than average spring, following a drier than usual winter. The three month rainfall for the region (August to October) was not as widespread as last year, with 50-100mm falling over the majority and isolated totals of 200mm being measured around Perth while 2014 saw 100-300mm across much of the region. Water and feed supplies across the drawing area of Muchea and Katanning are reportedly coming under increasing pressure and are deteriorating quickly.

Cattle                         

The number of cattle consigned to Muchea during September eased 12% from year-ago levels and October decreased 7% year-on-year, reflecting the increased number of cattle reportedly being consigned direct-to-works. Quality has become mixed, with young cattle not reaching the condition and weight usually gained by this time of year, and very few grass finished cattle being yarded. This has led to an increase in consignments being sold directly to feeders. However, overall cattle supply has tightened, with production capacity reduced as stock are sold at earlier stages and lighter weights, drawn out by the higher prices offered for cattle.

Prices have fluctuated over much of October and November after reaching a peak in late September. This week:

  • Heavy C2 vealer steers to feeders were 2¢ dearer on 311.5¢ while restockers purchased medium weight C2 vealer heifers for an average of 290¢/kg lwt.
  • Light weight store conditioned yearling steers lifted 24¢ to return 252.5¢, while medium weights to feed jumped 5¢ to average 300.3¢/kg lwt. The equivalent light weight yearling heifers were 8¢ dearer on 185.4¢ and heavier descriptions to feed sold between 256¢ and 290¢ to average 272.2¢/kg lwt.
  • D3 medium weight pastoral cows were 13¢ dearer, selling to 230¢ and averaging 213.3¢/kg lwt.

Sheep

Sheep and lamb numbers penned at Katanning and Muchea have increased over September and October to be up 14% and 3% year-on-year, respectively. A large turn-off of new season lambs has seen numbers offered for the region increase by 37% and 20% for September and October. The deteriorating season has also affected the weight and condition of lambs, with usual specifications expected at this time of year not being reached and more store and immature lambs consigned at the two selling centres. Air freight buyers have been purchasing lighter lambs and have reportedly increased their market share, raising the possibility that descriptions suitable to feed will be in tight supply in the new year.

Prices have eased throughout September, October and November as the seasonal over supply has outweighed demand. This week:

  • Light weight 2 score young lambs to processors at Muchea reached 627¢ and averaged 558¢, up 63¢, while 3 scores at Katanning were 3¢ cheaper on 444¢/kg cwt.
  • Merino ewes at Katanning eased 13¢ to return an average of 235¢ and similar ewes at Muchea were 17¢ dearer to average 255¢/kg cwt.

The short term Bureau of Meteorology rainfall outlook for south-western Western Australia indicates that the dry weather is expected to continue across the region as the typically dry summer period sets in.

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