Lack of late autumn rain pushes prices back down

Lack of late autumn rain pushes prices back down


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Graham and Macela Welsh, Flint Hill, Woodend, had this pen of 17 steers, 490kg, that sold for $1470 at Ballarat. Photo by Alastair Dowie.

Graham and Macela Welsh, Flint Hill, Woodend, had this pen of 17 steers, 490kg, that sold for $1470 at Ballarat. Photo by Alastair Dowie.

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It's been a good start to the season, but the cattle market needs more rain to bounce.

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It's been a good start to the season, but the cattle market needs more rain to bounce.

While falls in some areas across the east coast pushed prices up over the past month, the lack of late autumn rain has meant young cattle returns are back on the decline.

The Eastern Young Cattle Indicator opened the week at 458.75 cents a kilogram, down 32c/kg for the week and at a nearly 26c/kg discount to the same time last year.

However heavy and feeder steers, as well as the medium cow indicator, were all tracking above this time last year, if only marginally.

Landmark NSW livestock manager John Settree said throughput was on the increase in the short-term as producers got short on growing time and made the decision not to feed through another winter.

"It has been a late autumn turn-off because it hasn't really broken, in some parts numbers have slowed but elsewhere it is still coming at a rate of knots," Mr Settree said.

"There was some good rain in northern NSW, to give a good start, but there has just been no follow up; a month ago when it started everyone thought we'd have time to get growth and get a crop.

"Areas throughout SA and Victoria that were better last year and early this year have an opportunity to buy out of the northern market because they are not staying local in central or northern NSW."

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He said light, strong, store condition cows offered a good opportunity for those with the time and feed available.

"What you buy for 40c/kg today will make 200c/kg fat even now, if you have to keep them to the spring you are going to make a quid, but if you have to keep them 12 months then they end up being dear," he said.

Hayden Rogers, Landmark Wangaratta, said with bullocks still selling quite well (the heavy steer indicator at 282.25c/kg was trading 17c/kg higher year-on-year on Monday) but the lack of hay supply was holding restocking back.

"The top end is selling well, but as soon as you get onto secondary lines it falls right away - there is not a lot of restocker demand on them, they are either being bought cheap to put into a feedlot or they become really hard to sell and get sold to processors for mincing quality meat and a very reduced rate," Mr Rogers said.

"Everyone had had a very good start, but we were that far backwards we need it to keep coming - unless it has been cropped and heavily fertilised it isn't feed yet.

"I can't see the cattle market getting much dearer than it is because there is a record number of cattle on feed and the prime cattle are coming out of there - some major abattoirs are booked up until the first week of July.

"Big bullocks are still selling at 300c/kg-plus, because they are lacking [in supply], and there is not going to be a great supply of them either, while feedlot prices are going pretty well, still up to about 330c/kg for black steers above 280kg - under 280kg they do cheapen off very quickly, 330-350kg weaners is what they are after."

Hayden Lanyon, Elders Mortlake, said that area of the state was much the same, having received a good start but needing a follow up rain.

"At the moment there is enough warmth in the ground and sunny weather to get a bit of growth, but we are looking forward to getting more moisture," Mr Lanyon said.

"Generally down here at this time of year it is pretty bitter and cold so you don't expect much growth - with it being a bit warmer it does dry up quicker but on the other side we get a bit of elevated growth so follow up is the key.

"We've been feeding a lot of fodder out and that has started to back off which is good as we need to conserve it for the winter, we can't get too depleted too early.

"I think there is good opportunity to buy in cattle at reasonable money...there are a few people that are prepared to jump in because we know there is plenty of upside [in the market], but there are also people who have to sell and have been waiting for the small jump in prices we've had in the last few weeks."

Mr Lanyon said while it was said every year that cattle numbers would run out and generally they didn't, this year a lot of numbers had been cleared out of the system and there wouldn't be the supply of northern cattle flowing down like last year.

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