Grass fed demand drive

The year 2020 turns a corner as promising season supports beef producers

Beef
Kim Bath, Gamble, Walcha, was thrilled when her five Hereford-cross steers sold for 300 cents a kilogram ($1629 a head) at the Tamworth Regional Livestock Exchange on Tuesday. Photo: Michelle Mawhinney

Kim Bath, Gamble, Walcha, was thrilled when her five Hereford-cross steers sold for 300 cents a kilogram ($1629 a head) at the Tamworth Regional Livestock Exchange on Tuesday. Photo: Michelle Mawhinney

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Timely rain and a lack of supply keeps driving prime cattle competition across the state.

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Timely rain across the state's north, including just enough for Moree and not too much for Gloucester, has resulted in lower yardings of prime cattle while competition from buyers remains strong.

The Eastern Young Cattle Indicator told the story this week, jumping more than nine cents a kilogram (carcase weight) to 762c/kg, and up 231c/kg on this time last year.

At Inverell on Tuesday the yarding diminished by 70 per cent from the previous prime sale, while prices across the board averaged a new record high of 429c/kg (liveweight), surpassing the peaks of May and early June. Medium weight feeder steers gained 10c/kg to 15c/kg, while heavy steers to feed reached a top of 301c/kg.

The limited supply coming into a very good season contributed to dearer prices at Tamworth on Monday. Light to medium steers were up 14c/kg to 25c/kg, while light yearling heifers to feed sold to strong competition, with very light heifers up to 32c/kg better.

"I think we're in a good position for a while to come," reported Maitland agent Michael Easey. "There is limited cattle now in our area. We're going into a good spring and we'll be in a solid position for a while to come."

Inverell livestock agent Matt Mair with Westley family Shorthorn-cross cows that sold on a strong market for 300c/kg or $1958 to a southern processor during Tuesday's record sale. Photo: Steven O'Brien, Inverell Regional Livestock Exchange

Inverell livestock agent Matt Mair with Westley family Shorthorn-cross cows that sold on a strong market for 300c/kg or $1958 to a southern processor during Tuesday's record sale. Photo: Steven O'Brien, Inverell Regional Livestock Exchange

Gooch Agencies agent Bill Dwyer, Gloucester, said the reason for the keen bidding was simple: "If you've got feed and you're in the business of beef you've got to have cattle. You don't know what the market will do, but you've got to maintain the cycle of trading."

To the north in the Hastings Valley, livestock agent John O'Brien said mid winter sales were strong with yarding numbers only now coming off the boil.

"We've had an exceptional couple of sales with grass-fed the driver," he said. "We've had black baldy weaners, 140kg, sell to 600c/kg.

"People are selling and they are buying back in but we can expect a slight easing of prices towards the end of October as western cattle on crop come on to the market."

Northern Co-operative Meat Company chief executive Simon Stahl, Casino, predicts the impact would be tolerable (for the producer) 10pc. Meanwhile this processor, back by 40pc after the abrupt slowdown to China and the Middle East, is sucking in its gut in exact opposition to the producer.

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