Monday, April 22, 2024

ACROSS THE RAILS: Store cattle markets wake up

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After an extended autumn the country feels like it is finally slipping into winter. But the store cattle markets are already starting to wake up, albeit a week or two earlier than is traditional.
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June and July are typically very quiet months for store cattle trading, as volume is low and prices tend to stagnate until spring growth starts to appear. The general trend is status quo until the daffodils start appearing and farmers see feed blowing in the nor’wester winds. But even both of those are earlier this year and an accumulation of factors such as rain, grass growth, a lift in water tables and positive market outlooks are responsible for giving the store cattle market an early boost. Obtaining shorter-term steers has been the focus and this class has demonstrated a noticeable trend up. At Feilding, R2 dairy-beef steer prices tend to fluctuate from week-to-week through June and July, but in June this year the trend has been consistently up due to reliable volume and demand. Current levels of $2.98-$3.04/kg for 350-450kg are above the five-year average and have a 25-30c/kg price advantage on last year. Traditional steer levels are much more aligned with last year’s pricing and the five-year average.

At Frankton, tallies tend to peak at the beginning of July, before sliding downwards through the month. But, in previous years, prices have followed a similar downwards trend, which is not being reciprocated this year as the market has continued to strengthen. At the first June PGG Wrightson-hosted sale, the average R2 beef-dairy steer price was $2.60/kg for 365kg, while the last sale posted $2.77/kg for the same average weight. Good-weighted lines have managed to close in on $3/kg.

Recent results at Stortford Lodge and Taupō for R3 traditional steers also reflected very strong demand as levels of $3.13-$3.26/kg were already achievable, and R2 steers of the same breeding made $3.07-$3.12/kg at Stortford Lodge.

In contrast, the heifer market is in hibernation and will likely continue to stay that way until a grass market awakens it.

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