It was an interesting context in which the 2020 weaner sales kicked off. African Swine Fever, rainfall, herd liquidation and fires were all in the backdrop. To see prices that reflected positive outcomes for both sellers and buyers was a promising start to the year.
Across the various yards we visited – Hamilton, Pakenham, NVLX Wodonga and Yea there were good quality cattle on offer. Processors were well represented. Heavier well framed cattle had the highest demand and there was a clear premium for pens of EU stock from 0.15c and upwards.
Agents discussed that the weaner prices from these sales will likely look cheap in a few months.
One thing that is for sure, is that supply will continue to dominate prices and commentary for the foreseeable future.
Demand from China is at an all-time high. The herd liquidation rate in 2019 as reported by MLA hit an average of 54% which is well beyond the neutral zone of mid-high 40s. The impact from the fires in NSW and VIC is still unclear - Mercardo suggest the impact could result in around 1.8% being taken off the national herd. Alongside all of this there is also discussion about the positive Indian Ocean Dipole (that has led to the floods in South Africa and Indonesia and the drought in Australia) which has now weakened and is potentially encouraging the rain that we are starting to see across parts of Australia.
2020 promises another dynamic livestock market with a number of opportunities ahead!