The Australian cattle market continues to show amazing resilience, with prices continuing to hover at, or around, all time highs this week, as further good rainfall totals were registered through several regions. The first full week of auctions in February 2021 registered a 4,035 head increase in cattle offered through AuctionsPlus, with 19,803 head exclusively offered online.
While in many years the disrupted and unpredictable offerings through January and the holiday period can often give a somewhat distorted view of the true market sentiments, the trend in 2021 has been very clear as consistence returns in February. Light steers and heifers continue to be extremely hard to source, and even harder to afford, while breeding intentions remain dominant.
Further falls through key cattle producing regions over the past week helped to maintain the market sentiment for anything, male or female, being offered online below 330kg/head. For steers this week, 200-280kg steers jumped $57/head on the previous week, to average $1,414/head, or 566c/kg lwt, while the 280-330kg steer offerings averaged $83/head higher at $1,643/head. Auction clearance rates of 92% and 84%, respectively, across the two categories continued to show buyers almost frantic intentions to secure unfinished cattle as the excellent season continues.
Prices were largely steady to slightly lower into the heavier steer categories, at 330-400kg and 400kg plus, with the heaviest steers averaging $1,868/head for the week. In contrast, the heaviest heifer category jumped $36/head for the week, to average $1,856/head - with the breeding optionality pushing the clearance rate to 85% and the average price only $12/head shy of the corresponding steer average.
Joined females registered a mixed week for prices, as the much lower clearance rates across the four main categories continued to signal that buyers are baulking at the overall cost, while the sellers sit firm with ample feed and water supplies. One feature of the AuctionsPlus system is that transactions may be completed well after the closure of the listed auction – in some instances for several days, as both buyers and sellers revise their expectations to finalise transactions.
As un-joined heavy heifers (400kg+) averaged $1,856 this week, assessed and certified joined heifers averaged $2,366/head – an increase of $173/head on the previous week, at a clearance rate of 59%. On the surface it could be speculated that the $510/head difference between the two heifer lines is what some producers are willing to pay for near term calving, in contrast to the potential longer time horizon for empty heifers.
PTIC cows with CAF averaged $106/head lower this week, at $2,742/head, with the 62% clearance rate again revealing a persistent bid-offer spread in the days following the online sale.
Note – all prices reported below are as at the close of reporting of 5pm, Sunday 7th February.
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