October 28, 2008


Australian heavy weight cows in demand


A large number of heavy cows (over 520kg lwt) have been sold by producers this year, due to higher cattle prices and better seasonal conditions.


In the calendar year to date, national cattle numbers at NLRS reported sale yards were 4 percent less compared to last year. In Queensland,  NSW and Victoria, less cows have been sold through the sale yards so far this year, between 8 – 10 percent.

SA numbers had the largest gain, with 41 percent more cows sold compared to last year. WA was the other state to have a rise in numbers, with 11 percent more cows sold this year to date.


In contrast to a decline in light and medium cow sales, heavy cow sales were raised 28 percent, with every state recording an increase. The overall proportion of heavy cows to total yardings has increased, with NSW having the largest shift.


In NSW, 40 percent of the cows sold in the sale yards were heavy weights, up from 25 percent in the calendar year to date in 2007. In SA, this figure rose to 71 percent and on a national scale, 46 percent of all cows sold this year have been heavy weights. There is potential for a shortfall in numbers, particularly in SA, over the coming year which could also have an effect on main breeding herds with many producers already operating below full capacities.


Processors have purchased the vast majority of heavy weights. Comparatively, restockers purchased around 40 percent less cattle from the sale yards across all weights, particularly for light weights. This is due to the strength of processors at physical markets looking to secure numbers.


Prices for prime heavy cows averaged 9 percent higher so far this year despite the much larger offering. With the completion of Thursday 23 October 2008 trading, heavy D4s averaged 148¢ and the national US cow indicator was 137¢, 7¢/kg lwt below last week.

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