The latest Australian Lot Feeders Quarterly Survey report showed that cattle on feed numbers across Australia for the September quarter declined by 64,000 head, but remained above one million head for the third consecutive quarter.
Queensland grain fed cattle numbers fell by 5 per cent in the September quarter but remain sharply higher than last year. Feedlot numbers in Queensland declined by 30,000 head to around 597,000 head at September 30. This is still a whopping 29pc higher than the same period last year.
NSW cattle on feed numbers posted a modest 3 per cent decline in the September quarter.
Strength in the feedlot numbers through Queensland and northern NSW shows that operators are keeping the pens relatively full, despite the shortages in northern grain supplies.
The first interstate grain shipment for the season was discharged in Brisbane last week. At least some of the 23,000-tonne shipment of barley from SA that was discharged at a Brisbane port last week is expected to find its way into Darling Downs feedlots. Some of the as barley is also expected be used by maltsters.
Traders believe the shipment was booked before the October rain when the northern grain prices where high enough to justify the shipping costs from SA. Darling Downs grain prices have declined by $15 to $20 a tonne since September, which will make further interstate shipments from SA more difficult.
Southern Queensland grain prices edged higher last week as the winter crop harvest ends. Darling Downs feed barley finished the week $2 higher at $315 and SFW gained $5 to $327.
New season sorghum for a March/April delivery was $4 higher for the week at $262 delivered Darling Downs packers amid reports of export sales to Chinese buyers.
Wheat harvesting in southern Queensland and northern NSW is finished for another season. It was a tough year for farmers. Yields were well below average for those crop that were harvested, while many farmers fed off crops prior spring because of the dry winter.
While there wasn’t any significant rain in the inner Downs last week, the hot, humid weather is ideal for the rapidly growing sorghum crops. Storms dumped 30-45mm of rain through much of the western Downs from Goondiwindi, Roma and Miles. Most of the inner Downs sorghum areas recorded less than 10mm for the week.
Global wheat markets continued to drift lower last week amid an absence of supportive inputs. Russian wheat exports continue to dominate key import markets. Russian wheat exports are currently running 25pc above last year’s pace which is making it difficult on other origins.
Key global wheat importers are happy buy cheap Black Sea wheat while supplies are readily available so they can be more selective in the second half of 2018, when southern hemisphere exports are more important.
Indonesia is also feasting on cheaper Black Sea wheat supplies. Indonesian wheat imports from July to September are up by 50pc higher than the same period last year on the back of strong imports from Ukraine and Russia.