CATTLE prices may have slipped again this week, but there's still plenty to be positive about.
The number of cattle on feed is as high as it's ever been and that's largely fuelled by hot demand from export markets.
Australian Lot Feeders Association and Meat and Livestock Australia released the results of the quarterly cattle on feed survey last week and it confirmed what many of us suspected - more than one million head of cattle were on feed for the fifth consecutive quarter.
In fact, there was a record 1.147 million head feasting on grain during the June quarter.
Drilling a little deeper into the data, the number of cattle on feed in NSW during the June quarter hit 316,812 head. That's back a tad on the March quarter figure, but still a hefty total.
Victorian feedlots picked up the pace and that's where the bulk of the lift for the national supplies came from.
At the same time, MLA market information analyst Penny Graham said for the June quarter, Australian grainfed beef exports totalled 79,632 tonnes (shipped weight).
This was an increase of six per cent against the same quarter last year.
"Grainfed exports for the 2018-19 fiscal year totalled 311,986t, easily surpassing the record established in the 2017-18 fiscal year," Ms Graham said.
MLA also report beef export values reached a hefty $9.49 billion in the past financial year, a 19 per cent lift on the previous financial year and $446 million higher than the previous record set in 2014/15.
Rabobank have gone one step further this week forecasting grainfed exports to China could triple by 2030.
In its report titled Opportunities for growth in Australian grainfed beef, Rabobank senior animal proteins analyst Angus Gidley-Baird said continued growth in beef consumption in Asian countries, particularly China - along with Australia's strong market access and competitive supply chain - would provide the opportunity for the nation's total grainfed beef exports to increase 65pc to more than 500,000t by 2030.
He said exports to China alone could triple in the same period - from the current 50,000t to close to 200,000t.
"Given the potential size of the Chinese grainfed beef market and, provided Australia was competitive on price, the opportunities for Australia would likely outstrip the production growth of grainfed beef in Australia," he said.
Maitland store sale mostly firm
COWS with calves sold to a top of $1330 during the Maitland store cattle sale last Saturday were 808 head were offered.
Bowe and Lidbury agent Michael Easey said the quality and condition was mixed as some lines showed the effects of the dry conditions.
"Overall, the market was firm to easier," Mr Easey said.
"The yearlings and heavy cattle sold to a firm trend."
Weaner steers sold from $300 to $960, but the age variation was a reflection of the big range in prices.
Weaner heifers ranged from $250 to $1030, while yearling steers sold from $750 to $1200.
Pregnancy-tested-in-calf cows sold from $600 to $1120, while the joined cows there knocked down for $500 to $1150.
The cows with calves ranged from $500 to $1350 and averaged $1075.
Mr Easey said B Varley sold a run of young Angus cows with their first calves for $1230 to a Central Coast buyer, while Tomberua Partnership, Gloucester, sold young Angus cows in store condition with their first calves for $1200.
Tarsan Country Holdings sold Angus weaner steers for $930 and weaner heifers for $700.
Bega steers sell to $1490
ABOUT 1100 good quality cattle were offered during the Bega store cattle sale last Thursday.
Agents said the quality was good despite the ongoing dry weather.
Top heavy cattle sold to a firm market trend, while lightweight cattle were about $50 cheaper.
Buyers attended the sale from Warragul, Traralgon, Bairnsdale, Moruya and the local area.
Steers about 18 months old sold for a top of $1490 a head, while those about 12 months old topped at $1300.
Weaner steers reached a high of $990.
Unjoined heifers topped at $1300, while young 12-month-old heifers sold to $960.
The weaner heifers reached $810.
Cows with calves demanded a top of $1920 a unit.
S. and J. Dibden, Tilba, sold 12-month-old Angus steers for $1280 and same age Angus heifers for $900. They also sold pregnancy-tested-in-calf Hereford cows for $1320.
Bennokka Park, Bemboka, sold 12-month-old Murray Grey steers for $1300.
K. Pongratz, Towamba, sold Angus steers, 15 months, for $1290 and Angus heifers, 12 months, for $960. They also sold unjoined Angus heifers, 15 months, for $1330.