WA cattle prices move into record territory again

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Muchea Saleyards.
Camera IconMuchea Saleyards. Credit: Rueben Hale/Countryman

WA cattle prices have hit a new record, with the Western Young Cattle Indicator climbing to a massive 1044.47¢/kg yesterday.

The record figure saw the WYCI sitting nearly 6¢/kg above its eastern counterpart, the Eastern Young Cattle Indicator.

Both the WYCI and EYCI cracked 1000¢/kg (carcase weight) for the first time this year, on April 1 and July 22 respectively, and have gone on to break their own records numerous times.

The WYCI surged 26.19¢/kg overnight from Wednesday to Thursday , up 88¢ compared to a week ago and 289.77¢ higher than the same time last year.

Unusually, the sudden spike comes as yarding rates at WA saleyards continue to rise according to Meat and Livestock Australia market information manager Stephen Bignell

“Yardings are at 672, which is a 150 per cent increase compared to the start of the month,” Mr Bignell said.

“The yardings have really increased, so it’s an interesting thing that prices have gone up.

“The big jump has come out of Muchea, where the average prices a week ago were 860¢/kg for young cattle, and today they’re 1023¢/kg.”

Over the past week, Muchea Saleyards accounted for an average 25.6 per cent of yarding (172 head) while Mount Barker accounted for 74.4 per cent (500 head).

The Western Young Cattle Indicator and Eastern Young Cattle Indicator have both been breaking records in 2021.
Camera IconThe Western Young Cattle Indicator and Eastern Young Cattle Indicator have both been breaking records in 2021. Credit: Rueben Hale/Countryman

“Numbers in Muchea have come back 10 per cent in the last week, whereas Mount Barker has increased, and obviously Mount Barker is paying a bit of a premium to Muchea, so that’s helped to pull the price up,” Mr Bignell said.

“It’s largely down to feeders; restockers are making up 25 per cent, which hasn’t really changed a whole lot, but we are seeing producers chasing more vealers than they were previously.

“Vealers are currently making up close to 42 per cent of the cattle — if we go back to the start of last month it was around 35 per cent — and you always pay a bit of a premium for those vealers.”

With a bumper harvest expected in WA, Mr Bignell said the soaring WYCI was good news for feeders provided heavy feeder steer prices stayed high.

MLA’s Feeder Steer Indicator hit a record 532¢/kg (live weight) on October 13.

“The live weight that most of these feeders are being sold at is 400 plus ¢/kg... so if it’s a good harvest, there’s feed grain around and feeder steer prices stay up, then there is a margin to be made if they can add kilos for feedlots,” Mr Bignell said.

“The heavy steer hit a record 475¢/kg at the end of September and it’s only gone down about 8¢ from that high.

“If the heavy steer remains at these elevated prices, that’s when there’s a margin to be made.”

While MLA does not forecast price movements, Mr Bignell said it was worth noting that the WYCI was generally “far more volatile” than the EYCI because Muchea and Mt Barker were the only contributing saleyards.

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