Buyer demand softens as bullish market takes a 'breath'

Quality plainer at sales, but cattle prices remain strong

Beef
EJ Merriman and Son, Yass, sold seven, 671kg Angus-cross cows for 305.6c/kg, or $2051.89/head, at the the South Eastern Livestock Exchange near Yass last week.

EJ Merriman and Son, Yass, sold seven, 671kg Angus-cross cows for 305.6c/kg, or $2051.89/head, at the the South Eastern Livestock Exchange near Yass last week.

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Cattle numbers has lifted, but quality's plainer in the past week at prime sales.

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Some buyers were taking a breath from hectic markets in the past week in the lead up to the Easter period with both processors and restockers quieter.

Cattle numbers lifted but quality was plainer at the South Eastern Livestock Exchange near Yass last Thursday. Gunnedah agents also reported the offering was "mixed" on Tuesday, while at Wagga Wagga quality was mixed on Monday.

One trend appeared to be more weaners hitting the market, especially in the north of NSW.

As Tamworth gears up for its big Virbac Weaner Challenge and Feature Sale on Friday, Nathan McConnell, Elders Tamworth, said a couple of regular buyers took a breath at the sale on Monday, but the market for all cattle was still strong.

He could see some good weight in the weaners coming on to the market.

The sale on Friday would see up to 3000 weaners, mainly Angus, and crossbreds and some Charolais and Herefords.

The market was a little rattled by the coronavirus issue, with some processors showing a sign of caution and restockers sitting "a little bit back".

"But there is still plenty of confidence out there," Mr McConnell said.

Light cattle were still strong at Tamworth and Angus crossbred steers made 530 cents a kilogram.

Black steers also did well at Wagga on Monday, a 200kg steer reaching 540c/kg.

Wagga Regional Livestock agent, Isaac Hill, said some restockers were waiting to see if more rain fell in the next few weeks, as the recent autumn break was a bit early for some to get forage crops away.

Wagga was also in a waiting pattern leading up to Easter, as it did not have a sale on the Easter Monday. There were were 4800 cattle yarded on Monday, a rise of 820 compared to March 9.

The rain was still bringing in restockers and lot feeders over most categories, although "quality was mostly mixed with the bulk of the yarding secondary types", the MLA market report said.

Feedlot buyers were operating over all categories, but as heavy steer and bullock numbers declined, and "prices continued their remarkable run".

Mr Hill said many cattle were being put on the market that had completed their turnover jobs on properties back in September or October, especially surplus cows.

"We only have a couple of sales before the Easter break so I think a lot of people are keen to see their surplus stock go," he said.

He said the southern areas probably needed another 25mm of rain to give a bit more confidence going into winter when considering their stocking rates.

At Yass, grown heifers were much stronger with extra restocking and feeder competition selling from 270c/kg to 338c/kg.

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