Confidence dented by the lost competition of a default in payment by a second-tier export processor saw demand for slaughter cattle loose its edge in the physical market this week.
Prices for export steers and heifers, in particular, eased mostly 5 to 10c/kg lwt, and more so in southern centre closer to where the defaulting processor was located.
Heavy steers, Monday and Tuesday at Pakenham made 153- 163c/kg lwt while heavy bullocks at the centre made 145- 156c/kg lwt.
Manufacturing grade types were sold not far in arrears to Jap-ox prices making 132- 156 cents while heavy heifers made 126- 145c/kg lwt.
The cow market at Pakenham also met considerable adjustment with better types sold 2-9c/kg lwt easier while lean and light grades were 10- 20c/kg lwt cheaper.
Best heavy beef cows made 140- 142c/kg lwt while the bulk of the better covered middle run drafts made 118- 133c/kg lwt. Lean cows fetched 75- 115c/kg lwt.
The Pakenham trade sale after missing last week’s sale due to Easter found stimulus in a similar sized supply offering plainer quality.
Market reporter Peter Kostos said the regular following of specialist butcher and wholesaler orders kept competition keen for best quality trade vealers and fed yearlings at rates of 175 to 238.6c/kg lwt.
Feeder buyers which also competed strongly for a sizeable portion of secondary and plainer types secured a third of this 1580 head yarding, paying 155- 188c/kg lwt.
The activity of feeders preparing especially for the winter domestic market should soon be learnt when first-quarter feedlot placement details are released later this month.
At Wodonga Tuesday a modest increase in supplies to 1400 head saw a gathering of regular processor buyers along increased feeder inquiry attend.
These feeder orders again carried the day particularly on the heifer lines as heifer prices firmed 5-8c/kg lwt while steer values eased mostly by a similar margin.
Trade yearling steers made to 195c/kg lwt and averaged 172c/kg lwt while trade heifers made to 184c/kg lwt with sales here also averaging 172c/kg lwt.
Feeder steer sales were also easier according to the official report with these sold mainly from 154- 194c/kg lwt.
Grown steer and bullock sales were made to 170c/kg lwt and averaged 164c/kg lwt these, like heifers, an exception to the overall trend averaging firm to four cents higher.
At Shepparton Tuesday prices for light cows struck a significant hurdle as some averaged 20- 30c/kg lwt lower. The best of the beef cows in a yarding of more than 1000 export cattle, averaged three cents easier, making 115- 134c/kg lwt.
Heavy and better covered dairy cows made 95- 125c/kg lwt to also average three cents less while plain quality dairy cow were nine cents cheaper as average sales slumped to 105c/kg lwt.
The rising value of the Australian dollar which has gained almost 13 percent on the past six weeks has applied additional pressure to export margins especially product bound directly for the US imported beef market.
Meat & Livestock Australia says that although offerings from Australia and New Zealand have tightened US buyers continue to avoid forward commitments which saw 90CL cow imported beef, in AUD terms, decline five cents to 336.3Ac/kg FAS.
This compares to the market of a month ago when 90CL was returning to exporters 363Ac/kg FAS which has forced some Australian (and US) packers to cut back on kills to minimize losses, MLA said.
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