Cattle update - late May 2022 - Elders Rural Services

Cattle update – late May 2022

At a glance

  • Supply of medium and heavy weight cattle set to tighten as prices rise heading into winter.
  • Overall demand for beef cattle remains high in most states as producers make the decision to hold stock on farm and wait for spring.

Market fundamentals

National trade steer prices increased slightly in May, up 1.8 per cent (pc), remaining on a plateau which started in October 2021. Medium steer prices recorded a large increase of 12.9 pc, regaining price declines in April as supply tightens.

At state level, Western Australia recorded a jump in prices for both feeder and medium steers, while other states were more subdued. Medium steer prices were more volatile in May as the traditional dip in supply ahead of winter hit several regions.

The Elders Weather outlook forecasts multiple cold fronts across southern and eastern Australia from 6 to 10 and 17 to 21 June. Rain events from the tropics have the potential to move south and generate rain from the 1 to 8 June. The cold fronts are expected to bring widespread rain. In Western Australia (WA), the strongest cold fronts will start from 9 to 13 and again from 17 to 21 June.

Table showing national trade steer prices remained flat in May.

From the field

South Australia

“The south of the state, inclusive of the Mallee and south-east regions, are still awaiting a proper seasonal break that will put some serious moisture into the soil profile. It’s been a subdued start with generally just enough rain to get things started.”

“Cattle numbers are declining across all categories as we approach the depths of winter. Grown cattle prices remain static while Feeder weight cattle continue to be keenly sourced. Producers are conscious of the limited numbers of suitably weighted Steers and Heifers that will be on offer over the coming months.

“A shortage of intermediate weight cattle through the winter and heavier kill cattle in the spring is imminent, as we continue to see lighter weight cattle on the market now.

“Such sales are driven by the price achievable for this commodity, through continued demand from northern producers sourcing cattle to return to the paddock, with a similar demand for suitable lines of pregnant or calved females.” – Laryn Gogel, Elders Livestock Manager, southern South Australia.

New South Wales

“After three short weeks in April the market has returned to normal in terms of kill volumes. Demand remains high across the board when it comes to beef cattle.”

“Northern processors were looking for more cattle in May which added another element to the level of demand in the market.

“Angus feeder cattle remain well supported up to 730 to 770 c/kg cwt. while premium domestic grass feed beef reached $10/kg cwt and supermarket quality beef has sold to $7/kg cwt.

“Cool, damp weather will see supply contract over winter with most producers holding onto cattle and waiting until spring to sell.” – Nik Hannaford, Elders Livestock Manager, New South Wales


“Another widespread rain event in May has tightened cattle supply further. Anecdotally, graziers have elected to hold a higher proportion of female cattle on farm as a result of rain and feed availability.

“This scenario could make for an interesting period from June to July in terms of saleyard volumes, graziers may elect to focus on retention or go in the direction of replacement depending on how the season is shaping up.

“If there’s an emphasis on growing herd numbers we could see a higher level of demand for bulls once the selling season begins.” – Paul Holm, Elders Livestock Manager, Queensland

Market indicators

Table showing state indicator prices for cattle.

Note: States without sufficient data for the current month or without data for a specific stock category will not appear in the table.

Sources: Price data reproduced courtesy of Meat & Livestock Australia Limited.

The information contained in this article is given for the purpose of providing general information only, and while Elders has exercised reasonable care, skill and diligence in its preparation, many factors (including environmental and seasonal) can impact its accuracy and currency. Accordingly, the information should not be relied upon under any circumstances and Elders assumes no liability for any loss consequently suffered. If you would like to speak to someone for tailored advice relating to any of the matters referred to in this article, please contact Elders.

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