Strong market demand for beef continues to drive the trade for cattle at factories this week, with prices rising gradually.
While some finishers say an extra 5 cents/kg is available for both steers and heifers this week, the general consensus is more muted.
“Yes, the factories are still anxious to get more cattle, but they are very cautious about agreeing to pay more for them unless they are really under pressure to get them” one source explained.
“There is a policy in the sector now that they’re concerned that the market could overheat, from their point of view at least, and they are desperately trying to hold a cap on what they pay for cattle.”
The reality is that up to 370 cents/kg is being paid as the base for steers this week, but it is not available just for the asking, and a good percentage of stock is still moving on a price base of 365 cents/kg.
The same applies to heifers, with a general base quote of 370 cents/kg.
Up to 375 cents/kg is being paid to larger finishers who are regular suppliers with more power to negotiate on price.
Interest from processors is strongest for Hereford and Angus crosses in both steers and heifers, for which most processors pay a breed premium, as the marketing done by both these breed groups shows dividends for finishers.
Some processors are willing to stretch their buying power to the upper limits to get these animals currently, which is a very positive indicator of the market demand for both from consumers.
Meanwhile, good weather conditions for farming has taken pressure off finishers to sell stock, and processors have to work a bit harder to get cattle moving.
Prices for young bulls continue to track steer prices at a discount of 5-10 cents/kg, with the base for Rs at 360-365 cents/kg, and the intake continuing at 35-45% behind the 2019 level.
Cow numbers going into the factories are continuing at a high level, but so also is the demand, resulting in prices edging upward to 320 cents/kg and some making 330 cents/kg this week for R-grade cows.
Os are making up to 310-315 cents/kg, while the improved trade has also raised the return for P-grade cows, to 290-300 cents/kg.