Prices in the YOUNG steers and heifers categories remained robust, although some categories lacked the “frantic buyer enthusiasm” of previous short weeks, on AuctionsPlus this week.
While the price of most categories of young steers and heifers increased in terms of c/kg, lower clearance rates were evident. This week produced a total trade supply of 18,191 cattle, the highest since early November, with growing numbers of sellers reportedly keen to bring cattle to market, particularly through the lighter steer lines, to take advantage of the excellent prices and settle in place for the end of the summer.
With January holiday-disrupted markets now in the rearview mirror and the normal weekly rhythm set to return in February, the true level of the national cattle market will be established in the weeks ahead. The recent move in the Eastern Young Cattle Benchmark, hitting almost 1200c/kg earlier this week, only to drop 6% over the next two days, shows how the holiday period can contribute to volatility of the young cattle market.
Corresponding to the return to normal market hours in February, there was another promising three-month rainfall outlook from the Bureau of Meteorology. Given that the market has largely priced in the continuation of excellent conditions in eastern Australia heading into the fall, further “expected” falls in the coming months should not disturb the market too much.
As with most markets, it will be the unexpected, or the disappointing, that will create potentially big shifts in the months ahead.
The main feature of trade sales this week was a lower clearance rate in young cattle lines, while PTIC heifers continue to be the largest market segment. Although the lighter steer categories had a greater influence on dairy cattle this week, the heavier lines were mixed. The 330-400kg steers increased an average of 25c/kg last week, averaging 627c, with a moderate 59c head clearance of 2447 offered.
Heavy steers fell slightly last week, down 3c, to average 538c/kg liveweight, or $2326/head.
Clearance rates were also lower in lines of young heifers, as the recent willingness of buyers to buy at all costs has receded. Of the 1,620 head of heifers from 280 to 330 kg on offer, the liquidation rate slipped to just 68%, while the average price rose slightly by 2c/kg to reach an average of 657c. Heavy heifers lifted 12c last week, to 541c.
Thanks to proven breeding lines, PTIC heifers were again the largest market segment, with 2822 head selling at 78 pc. After some volatility in January, the average price for PTIC heifers ended in January at $3,087/head.
From Rolleston in central Queensland an offer of 56 444kg PTIC Brahman heifers at 20-30 months sold for $700 above their reserve making 576.7c for a return of $2560/head.
From the south, a line of 62 23-month-old PTIC Angus heifers averaging 397kg from Coleraine, Victoria, fetched $2760/head, heading to South Australia, while three lines totaling 121 PTIC 16-year-old Angus heifers at 27 months of Armidale NSW made from 711.3c/kg for the heaviest line weighing an average of 432kg, at 748.5c/kg for a line weighing an average of 420kg.
Prices at 2 p.m., Friday 28 January.