Southern cattle markets remain in winter solstice

Southern cattle markets remain in winter solstice


Farm Online News
Georgie Evans, Derrinallum (right), selling her first ever cattle at Mortlake, had the support of Prue Evans, Hamilton, and Georgia Lillie, Larralea. Photo by Alastair Dowie.

Georgie Evans, Derrinallum (right), selling her first ever cattle at Mortlake, had the support of Prue Evans, Hamilton, and Georgia Lillie, Larralea. Photo by Alastair Dowie.

Aa

Right now, the cool, and in parts, wet conditions mean cattle are not going to market.

Aa

Right now, southern Australian cattle markets are experiencing what has been called the winter cattle solstice.

Cold weather, good rain in some areas but little or none in others, and poor seasons mean regular patterns for getting cattle to market have been thrown into turmoil.

Pakenham, Victoria's third-largest cattle selling centre, yarded 850 head on Monday, down 100 from the week before.

Rodwells senior auctioneer Anthony Delaney said a number of factors had led to this spell in numbers.

"Every cattle saleyard in Victoria is having record quiet patches," he said.

"It is just a case of having such a crook autumn.

"Cattle that you normally would be selling now or further into the spring, are already sold.

"No one has got any fodder, hay is in record low numbers [of supply] and if you can get your hands on it, the cost is unviable.

"It's green and there is half a season happening, but it is still just a green painted on.

"There is confidence in the job but the ability to go and put stock back on is not there.

"Someone who would normally put on 50 steers [will] go with 15."

READ MORE:

At Ballarat last Friday, 1300 head were yarded, which was down on the offerings at the last two sales but more than the 1000 originally advertised.

TB Smith & Sons livestock agent Xavier Bourke described it as a good, solid market.

"[There were] some up to 350 cents a kilogram and even up to 370c/kg, while lighter cattle were around 400c/kg," Mr Bourke said.

"There were a few local restockers, and some from down around Colac and Geelong.

"The feedlots were very big [in the market], but they were all fighting over limited numbers."

Mr Bourke said that, like the Mt Gambier, SA, store sale the week before, it was clear that to meet their demand, feedlotters were now prepared to buy lighter cattle.

"Yeah definitely the feedlots were going down to 310-320kg," he said.

"They have definitely dropped their weight by 30 or 40kg and [are] into the lighter weight calves to secure numbers."

With demand is still high, for many producers that promise of a good return has helped them decide if they hold out for a turn in the season, or sell.

Elders livestock operations manager for the southern zone Ron Rutledge.

Elders livestock operations manager for the southern zone Ron Rutledge.

Elders livestock operations manager for the southern zone Ron Rutledge said now, unlike last year, producers can sell out of season and not pay a financial penalty.

"Some people have fed very heavily," Mr Rutledge said.

"They are now at the crossroads in making a decision whether they spend an excessive amount of money on the feed regime, or if they exit.

"But this year they are exiting at reasonable prices."

And Mr Delaney agreed.

"It is a different situation this time around because of the stock prices being high, you are not giving them away," he said.

In South Australia, that promise of a good return has led many to sell.

Livestock SA president Joe Keynes.

Livestock SA president Joe Keynes.

Livestock SA president Joe Keynes said the decision very much depended on where you were.

"Our northern pastoral country is in severe drought," Mr Keynes said.

"Lots of areas in the south-east are good, Kangaroo Island is good, and parts of the Mallee have had a start.

"People have made the decision that anything that's surplus to their normal requirements have already gone or are going.

"If they haven't got enough food, they are making the decision that it is better to go to market while the prices are high and they are in reasonable condition.

"We have to have faith that it will rain one day but we have to make some hard decisions."

While producers look to the skies and weather forecasts to help with their decisions, Meat & Livestock Australia analysis has confirmed that the limited supply of slaughter-ready cattle, particularly grassfed, and strong demand in key export markets, has kept the pressure on finished cattle prices.

Last week the national saleyard heavy steer indicator was trading at 310c/kg liveweight.

This is the first time it has been above 300c/kg in a little over two years.

Aa

From the front page

Sponsored by