Cattle prices beefed up

SURGE: Scott and Julie Reid, of Forbes, sold seven grain-fed Hereford heifers for 314 cents a kilogram at Forbes prime sale on Monday.
SURGE: Scott and Julie Reid, of Forbes, sold seven grain-fed Hereford heifers for 314 cents a kilogram at Forbes prime sale on Monday.

A SURGE in the prime cattle market of about 20 cents a kilogram (liveweight) early this week was a bonus for vendors who were already celebrating another fall of rain during the weekend. 

By Wednesday evening the Eastern Young Cattle Indicator (EYCI) had surged to a record 640.75 cents a kilogram (carcase weight) as buyers bid up another storm in an attempt to fill orders.

Sales of both yearling steers and heifers on Wednesday were on average 30c/kg dearer forcing the overall EYCI up more than 6c/kg in one day.

At the same time the EYCI was more than 70c/kg higher than a month ago and over 130c/kg more than a year ago.

Scott and Julie Reid, of “Bindiwalla” at Forbes, took advantage of the rising winter market selling 532kg grain finished heifers for $1670 at Forbes prime sale on Monday. 

“The prices were unreal,” Mr Reid said. “We try to have our stock in prime condition for this time of year to take advantage of the traditional dearer winter market.”

Mr Reid said his heifers were grain fed as there was little feed in the paddocks during autumn. 

“The grain feeding has paid off this year and with all the rain about and tighter supply, I expect the market to rise a little more in coming weeks.”  

But there could be even more joy for vendors with Mecardo analyst Matt Dalgleish predicting an EYCI high of 650c/kg.  

“Our modelling suggests the expected range in 2016 is 545c/kg to 650c/kg and 580c/kg to 675c/kg in 2017.”

The Mecardo forecast model for the EYCI incorporates supply projections from Meat and Livestock Australia along with forecast variables from the US Department of Agriculture, Australian dollar estimates, 90CL prices and live cattle futures prices.

It appears the price surge last week and again this week had little to do with falling supply at saleyards as most centres have recorded an increase or steady yardings. 

But paddock to plate beef producer Robert Gill, of Merriwa, said the prices had hit dangerous territory.

“We have to remember somebody has to buy the meat and somebody has to plate the meat,”  Mr Gill said.

“We have to keep it in reach of the consumer.”

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