A COMBINATION of the states driest July since 2002, low restocker interest and a lack of supply across the board has caused a price drop for young cattle.
Early this week the Eastern Young Cattle Indicator sat at 558.75 cents a kilogram (carcase weight). That price is more than 160c/kg cheaper than this time last year.
Carter, Lindsay and Weber director Matthew Weber, Dubbo, said a lack of rain had severely affected restocker numbers at recent sales.
“A lot of our supply area is pretty dry, and we have seen a lot less restocker interest,” Mr Weber said.
“A bit of rain would boost that interest back up, but right now it’s too dry for people to consider buying more.”
During the past month, Mr Weber said the market for young cattle had eased 15c/kg to 20c/kg across the board.
He said there had been a decrease in the quality and condition of cattle offered, as the dry spell continued.
“The lack of quality has made the market look slightly cheaper,” he said.
“Good trade vealers to the butchers have sold reasonably well, dropping less in price, but we are seeing less of good quality.”
Ray Donovan Stock and Station Agents principal Mitch Donovan, Grafton, said the majority of young calves offered had remained in good quality condition, while supply had been down.
“We have definitely seen less numbers, but we are still seeing a lot of quality calves,” he said.
“Numbers have been letting us down, we have been struggling to yard 200 young calves here in Grafton.
“We are still seeing as much export cattle as we are young cattle, where usually two thirds of the market is young cattle.”
Mr Donovan said a decrease in numbers was due to the time of year, with much store cattle already sold on, and the new crop of calves about to drop.
He said store cattle prices for young cattle were dropping, while prices to processors had remained firm.
“Heavier weaner steers have held up, but there isn’t to many around. Lighter calves have dropped about 50c/kg from two months ago.”
“Vealers to the meat works have been making just shy of 300c/kg (liveweight) for about a month.”
Landmark Boorowa agent Ross Arabin, who also services Yass and Cowra areas, said numbers had dropped considerably as the season tightened. He said that a loss of quality of condition, had seen prices for young steers drop on average by 60c/kg at the Yass saleyards.
“From the peak of the weaner sales in March, they are back 60c/kg to 80c/kg. They were going for 400c/kg, with more for the really high quality, and now you are getting 320c/kg to 330c/kg.
“It is still good money, just not the ridiculous money we were seeing.”
Firmer result for Manildra steers
WHILE the store cattle market was slightly down in comparison to last month’s sale, Scott and Emmie Thomas, “Wangilla”, Manildra, were pleasantly surprised with the prices they received for their young Angus steers at the monthly Carcoar store sale at the Central Tablelands Livestock Exchange last Friday.
They returned $1080 a head for a pen of 30, 11- to 12-month-old, Angus steers weighing an average of 330 kilograms.
Mr Thomas said he had been lucky to receive the higher end of prices.
“The market has been strong, but it has dropped 20c/kg on what it was a month ago,” he said.
“A lot of similar steers were making $900 to $950, so it’s good that we were able to get more than the $1000 mark,” he said.
Mr Thomas said overall vendors were happy with how the market had held up.
“This time a year ago, we were making $1200 to $1300 a head on similar young steers, so while the market is still quite strong it’s not at its peak.”
“The prolonged frosts and the consistent dry weather has forced the market back,” he said.
He joins his cows on October 1, to Noonee bulls from Netta Lee, Larras Lee near Molong, for a July calving.
He runs a couple of hundred breeders a year depending on the season, retaining about 15 heifers a year for breeding purposes.
Mr Thomas generally aims to feed young steers and heifers to the 300kg mark, selling about 180 of his cattle throughout the year at the store sales in Carcoar and the prime sales at Forbes.