Cattle update - March 2022 - Elders Rural Services
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Cattle update – March 2022

At a glance

  • South Australian stud stock season is well underway and bull prices have followed commercial beef prices higher, the Elders SA Stud Stock team reported a $3-5,000 increase in prices compared to last year.
  • ABARES forecast a decline in sale yard prices in 2022/23 as calf numbers are tipped to rise.

Market fundamentals

National trade steer prices continued to track sideways in February, up 1 per cent (pc).  Current prices are 21 pc above year ago levels.

Looking ahead, supply is expected to increase in March on balance, however we acknowledge that there is a lot to play out in flood affected regions of Queensland and New South Wales. Stock losses, road closures and processor disruptions are all factors which will play on prices this month.

At state level, trade steer prices were relatively stable compared to last month. New South Wales recorded an 8 pc decline but that was the largest variance, with other states recording low single digit movements.

Longer term forecasts released by ABARES this week suggest that cattle prices will buckle under the weight of increasing calf numbers. An average sale yard price of 789 c/kg LWT is forecast for this financial year, decreasing to 711 c/kg LWT in 2022/23.

The Elders Weather outlook forecasts multiple cold fronts across southern and eastern Australia from 11 to 15 March and 26 to 30 March. The cold fronts are expected to bring widespread rain. In Western Australia (WA), the strongest cold fronts will start from 11 to 15 March and again from 27 to 31.

graph-showing-national-trade-steer-indicator-march2022
Graph showing national trade steer prices remain stable.

Upside

  • Robust restocking demand

Downside

  • Supply is expected to rise in March.
  • Long term supply increases

From the field

L to R: Laryn Gogel Livestock Sales Manager Keith, Dong Zhu, Owner, Lakeside Simmental Stud, Greg Cobiac Branch Manager Kingston and Tony Weatherall, Stud Stock Sales Specialist.
L to R: Laryn Gogel Livestock Sales Manager Keith, Dong Zhu, Owner, Lakeside Simmental Stud, Greg Cobiac Branch Manager Kingston and Tony Weatherall, Stud Stock Sales Specialist.

South Australia

“Whilst the cattle market remains strong in general, we have seen some fluctuations in pricing. Recent store sales such as Strathalbyn saw feeder steers increase in price when compared to heifers.

“Supply of cattle from the northern pastoral areas of SA and NT/Alice Springs remains low, given the significant rainfall in January throughout the north. This trend is likely to remain with graziers capitalising on an abundance of feed.

“Heading into autumn, confidence is at a good level in the north of the state, yet understandably a bit wary in the south where the season remains dry. An early break to the season could see this turn around quite quickly down south.” – Damien Webb, Elders Livestock Manager, northern South Australia.

“Elders South Australia are well into the 2022 bull season with the season kicking off early February at Beef Week.

“Our Stud Stock business is very important to us here at Elders, as we understand supporting the stud breeding industry sets up the future for livestock production.

“As commercial beef prices rise to an all-time high, we are expected to see increases in prices at our stud bull sales, with average prices being $3-5k up on last year. The reason for this increase is that the commercial buyers are now willing (and able) to pay more for a bull. An old rule of thumb suggests a buyer would pay up to the cost of 8-10 calves for a bull. We have seen calf prices rise, and not too long ago we saw a young steer calf selling for $500 at the Strathalbyn market. Now, those same calves are reaching $2000+.

“Top results for the season so far include Woonalee Simmental to a top of $55,000, Allendale & Days Whiteface Poll Hereford to a top of $52,000 and Mandayen Angus to a top of $40,000.

“SA have more bull sales throughout March, with a strong shorthorn yarding still to come.” – Tom Penna, Elders Stud Stock Marketing Manager, South Australia.

Queensland

“The majority of store stock livestock prices in Queensland continue to rise as supply remains flat. Heavy feeder prices have generally held stable over the past few weeks as those numbers start to increase. There are indications that the first-round muster in the north has begun as the wet season reaches a close, with the season described as patchy.

“Confidence levels are still very high, for processors and feedlots the supply should increase as the selling season kicks away properly, and for producers the season although patchy has provided adequate feed levels in the paddock which indicate that there won’t be a full on rush to the gate.” – Paul Holm, Elders Livestock Manager Queensland and NT.

Market indicators

Table showing trade steers and medium steer prices over time.
Table showing trade steers and medium steer prices over time.

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

*The forecast shown on the graph is derived from an auto regression model (ARIMA) which was used to generate the high and low 68pc confidence interval. The ARIMA model draws on data from 2016 to now. The model is purely mathematical and should only be used as a guide for where prices could land in the next two months.

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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