The majority of live exporters get it right and the south-east Asian live export trade is a real success story.
For the three months to end of March 2018 the Indonesian market imported just over 100,000 head. This was a 26 per cent increase on the numbers imported during the same period in 2017.
The two main reasons for this increase were that the Indonesian lotfeeders had to have cattle on feed by March 30 to ensure they had cattle fed and ready for the Hari Raya which begins mid-May with the start of fasting, and finishes 30 days later, with Hari Raya Aidilfitri.
In addition the price was about 10 to 15pc cheaper than 2017, encouraging importers to take a few more cattle.
Wellard, for instance, in this time had shipped 18,700 head. A particularly pleasing part is that Wellard continue to post excellent delivery records, losing less than one head in every 1000 cattle shipped. (In fact, Wellard have lost just 13 head over the past three months).
My understanding is that other exporters share similar success rates in their shipments. This is a strong indication that the south-est Asian trade continues to put welfare as a high priority.
However, the news is not all great, Indonesian lotfeeders continue to battle the influence of cheap Indian frozen buffalo and are seeing continued push back on price as the Indian product continues to make more headway into all the traditional markets for fresh meat, previously dominated by Australian fed cattle.
To have confidence to plan with future Australian cattle imports, Indonesian lotfeeders are looking for a further decrease in price, so that they can compete with frozen Indian beef. The price differential now is too great, and even though customers prefer fresh meat, and will pay a premium, the current differential is just too great. They are looking for a further 15-20pc decrease in their landed Indonesia price.
We are seeing some signs that parts of the export supply chain are willing to meet the market, but I think we will have to see what other influences arise, before the importers’ request is fully realised.
Exporters are expecting total numbers to Indonesia will be down about 100,000 on last year. A lot of this will depend on price though.
The cattle were certainly flowing into the markets this last week as producers are approaching the winter and want to take advantage of current pricing, albeit reluctantly.
With the increased numbers, the prices have eased as expected. Regular buyers are still active in all markets; it is just the urgency is not there as it was three or four months ago.
Roma again this week yarded over 8000 head and the indication from agents is that the numbers will continue to flow. Dalby attracted 5000 head and the same in Central Queensland with numbers flowing into Emerald and Rockhampton markets with 7500 head, combined at both centres this week.
We should never underestimate the importance of the lotfeeding sector in underpinning the livestock markets across the state. At each sale, there are commission and company buyers with orders to keep a solid base in the market.
Prices for livestock suitable for feedlots have declined over the past six months, but the price for feed rations have increased therefore eliminating any profit margins for most feedlot operations. It is vitally important for this sector to be profitable.
Jake Passfield, Hoch & Wilkinson Clermont reported a strong sale for the monthly store and prime markets, considering the season is patchy around Clermont and up the Belyando.
Bullocks reached 273c/kg and prime cows to 227c, averaging 207c. Lighter store steers sold to a top of 346c and went to bullock finishers at Rolleston and Moura. The next monthly sale is Wednesday May 16.
Jake also told me that the annual Clermont show is next month and it is reportedly the oldest show in Queensland, celebrating its 150th. All the very best to the show committee and exhibitors for this important district milestone.