Northern cattle markets strengthen

11 November 2015

As highlighted in the November edition of the North of the Tropic Beef Report, all major northern cattle markets strengthened in the first week of November.

Live export cattle delivered to Darwin have continued to improve over the past month, with the feeder steer indicator averaging 335¢/kg lwt last week – 94¢/kg lwt above where it was this time last year. Townsville delivered cattle prices were fairly steady, with the feeder steer indicator averaging 293¢/kg lwt last week – up 82¢/kg lwt year-on-year.

Supported by robust live export quotes, young cattle in north Queensland saleyards have also shown strong growth. The north Queensland saleyard light steer indicator averaged 308¢/kg lwt last week, about 100¢/kg lwt above where it sat this time last year.

Prime cattle through north Queensland saleyards have also trended dearer over the past two weeks and current prices for some categories are out-performing comparable over-the-hook lines. The north Queensland saleyard grassfed bullock indicator averaged 292¢/kg lwt (or an estimated 546¢/kg cwt) last week, up 20¢/kg lwt on a fortnight ago, while the Queensland over-the-hook heavy steer indicator was 537¢/kg cwt this week.

The contrast is even more evident in the cow market, with processor demand weakening on lower export prices to the US. The north Queensland saleyard medium cow indicator averaged 246¢/kg lwt (or an estimated 507¢/kg cwt) last week, while the Queensland over-the-hook medium cow indicator was 474¢/kg cwt this week.

North Queensland cattle supplies are likely to remain tight over the remainder of the year, especially if further rain events occur in coming weeks. North Queensland cattle slaughter was a little over 19,000 head last week, 22% below this time last year and the lowest weekly kill since Easter. In addition, Charters Towers has cancelled two of the last four sales while Emerald didn’t operate two weeks ago.

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