Despite widespread rainfall again this week over large swathes of Queensland and northern NSW, the cattle markets across the eastern states had mixed responses, with some selling centres registering improved returns, while others remained flat. Additionally, even after the rain last week, indicative eastern states weekly adult cattle slaughter was again in excess of 167,000 head.
While cattle slaughter continued at record pace through February, so too did Australian beef and veal exports, with February shipments likely to exceed 90,000 tonnes swt. Assisting demand is the continued strengthening of the developing markets, with another very large month to China anticipated.
While the rain saw a large reduction in offerings at cattle markets, and reportedly strong processor orders kicked the market somewhat, the extent at which the improved sentiment lasts will depend on the timeliness of follow-up rain. Unfortunately, the most recent BOM three month outlook points to a drier than normal autumn for Queensland and northern NSW – which could see additional cattle enter the market, combined with subdued restocker and finisher demand.
Lamb and mutton exports for February are also moving at historically high levels, with each likely to exceed 17,000 tonnes swt, driven by increased slaughter.
Lamb markets held up much better, with the national heavy lamb indicator finishing Thursday’s markets on 545¢/kg cwt, up 12¢, while the mutton indicator rose 27¢, to 253¢/kg cwt. The Eastern Young Cattle Indicator increased modestly, considering the rainfall, to finish Thursday at 309¢/kg cwt, while demand for heavy steers remained steady, finishing the week at 320¢/kg cwt.