THE cattle market has headed north this week as producers in the south get closer to the autumn break and parts of the east coast received some early falls.
After well above average cattle numbers have been slaughtered so far this year, with producers just unable to hang on any longer, prices between now and either a successful or failed start to the rainfall season in the south will be reliant on how confident those with cattle left are that it will rain.
A likely dry start to the southern cool season teamed with higher than average April to June temperatures are the key points in the Bureau of Meteorology's (BoM) first look for the next three months.
"April to June is likely to be drier than average over the Cape York Peninsula in Queensland, and central to northern parts of Victoria, extending into southern NSW," BoM said.
"Elsewhere there is no strong shift towards a significantly wetter or drier than average three months."
As Meat & Livestock Australia's (MLA) market information team pointed out, the forecast may have improved but it is still far from encouraging for those producers who already have more than one failed autumn behind them.
"While the forecast still suggests a dry end to the northern wet season and a dry start to the southern cool season, the outlook has improved significantly on the one released a fortnight ago - which, to be fair, couldn't have been much worse," MLA said.
But the slightly improved forecast, teamed with a few predicted rainfall events coming to fruition in North-East Victoria and southern NSW this week, has helped the downward slide of cattle prices.
All eastern state indicators opened the trading week stronger, and then lifted again after Tuesday's sales.
The Eastern Young Cattle Indicator climbed back above 400 cents a kilogram, opening the week 5c/kg stronger at 396.50c/kg before closing Tuesday at 421c/kg, remaining at a 128.50c/kg discount on last year.
Matt Dalgleish, Mecardo, said an easing of numbers through the system could have been a contributing factor, after the initial dire rain outlook and the ongoing dry conditions pushed Queensland weekly yarding levels to 67 per cent above the five-year average for March.
"In NSW, cattle throughput has been trending 12pc above the five-year average pattern since the start of the year," Mr Dalgleish said.
"However, since the beginning of March, this has lifted to 50pc above the average seasonal trend.
"Victoria has been bucking the trend, with cattle yarding levels 23pc below the five-year average since the start of 2019 and average weekly levels in Victoria since March haven't been dissimilar at 24pc below the long-term seasonal trend."