Cattle supply down to a trickle

The huge sell-off is catching up to the cattle market with numbers dwindling

Beef
Angus weaners from T and W Medway, Gunning topped the Yass prime sale on Thursday, selling for 483.2c/kg. Weaner prices eased by 15 cents. Photo: SELX

Angus weaners from T and W Medway, Gunning topped the Yass prime sale on Thursday, selling for 483.2c/kg. Weaner prices eased by 15 cents. Photo: SELX

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Cattle numbers not expected to increase until August in some selling centres.

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The huge sell-off of cattle in the past 12 months is catching up, numbers dropping to a trickle in selling centres around the state this week, with the long-weekend also having an impact.

Davidson Cameron and Co general manager Luke Scicluna said at Gunnedah there was less than 500 head yarded at Tuesday's prime sale, down by 345 on last week.

"Everything still sold for good competition, the black steers weighing 350 kilograms made 430c/kg, we had some lightweight Santa steers make 460c/kg," Mr Scicluna said.

"I don't think the store market's getting any cheaper at this stage."

He said the magnificent season in their region was encouraging producers to hold onto cattle.

"People will take advantage of lots of feed, if an animal is putting on 2kg a day, potentially making you over $8 per head a day, you keep them going," he said.

He said he didn't expect good runs of fat cattle through the saleyards until mid-August to September.

And, although the supply of restocker cattle may be drying up, Mr Scicluna said buyers continued to come out of the woodworks.

"I think every week there's another round of people who thought 'we're not going to buy cattle at these prices', but now they're thinking 'it's not getting any cheaper and we've got feed that's falling over, we better step into it.'"

Meanwhile, exporter JBS was back operating after a week's break due to the closure of their Dinmore plant.

Plasto and Company director Ross Plasto said there was only around 800 head yarded at Dubbo last week.

"Normally at this time of year it would be between 3000-4000 head, that shows the difference in supply and demand this year," he said.

"You can't have three years of drought and expect the numbers still to be there, west of the Newell (Highway) there was hardly a beast left."

He said the market was still firing, cows eased to top at 303c/kg but weaners were selling for 568c/kg and vealers to 538c/kg.

Like at Gunnedah, he expected the numbers wouldn't start to increase until August, September when people began to lock up their crops.

Mr Plasto said while most restockers had bought their fill of weaner cattle, there was still demand for good breeding stock, but the price was prohibitive.

"I think most people will wait until they get a harvest and see how much money's in the bank," Mr Plasto said.

At Yass, Michael Hall of Michael Hall Livestock and Property said numbers had been stable for the last three to four weeks but had certainly reduced on what they had been yarding, 621 on the draw last week.

He said their district was looking for another rain soon.

"There's still solid demand but the further we get from the last drop of rain the more likely it will be that it starts to wane coming into winter," Mr Hall said.

He said last week's sale saw a bit of a drop in prices, with falls through the feeder cattle and even the weaners sold a touch cheaper, easing 15c, prices between 390c/kg and 483c/kg.

Mr Hall said supply was definitely dropping earlier this year, but that was to be expected due to the selling off of breeding stock and with calves headed to market earlier this year.

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