Shane Stretton, Landmark Company livestock agent in North Queensland based in Charters Towers has been marketing cattle across the top of the state for years so it was good to talk about how the numbers are moving in his patch.
Shane has noted that currently, the majority of north and north western Queensland (north of the railway line) has had a strong end to the 2018 wet season, even though the rain mostly came in March and particularly towards the end of March.
While producers south of the line are sending weaners to southern markets, a major flush of heavy grown slaughter cattle are trading into live export predominantly through the port of Townsville and to a lesser degree Cloncurry. Currently year to date they have seen about 10-12 export ships bound for Vietnam with slaughter weight cattle since the end of January out of Townsville alone.
There has been a very subdued Indonesian feeder market since the start of 2018 out of Townsville with only four or five ships for the entire period, with the larger percentage of Queensland cattle bound for Indonesia going through Cloncurry en route to Darwin.
Three vessels were loaded last month, less than previous years. Live export prices out of Townsville for steers are 2.40c/kg and heifers 2.20c/kg, weight specs being 280-380kg for late a June delivery.
Currently there are limited numbers of lighter weight background cattle on the market across the north. Most producers are content with trying to offload cattle that have more weight about them, and they have just stared the annual breeder musters in the past two to four weeks.
One would expect that in the weeks ahead we would see increasing numbers of lighter cattle hitting the market.
Over the past two months, large lines of company cattle from the Barky Tablelands are moving resulting from a very poor season west of Mt Isa and into the eastern side of the Northern Territory.
With large numbers being consigned to processors on the east coast, as well as pregnant females and cows and calves being sold off in a concerted effort to reduce numbers quickly in what looks to be a very ordinary year for many.
The sharp reduction in price over the past six weeks for all types of cattle due to large numbers of cattle on the market across the entire state have come as a fair shock to the majority of people in the north.
One has to promote Shane’s ‘better half’ Kylie who is involved with the Rural Telecommunications Review Board for the Federal Government. Kylie is doing community forums in Katherine, Darwin and Kununurra this week. These reviews are programmed to take about three months and will be undertaken in every Australian state.
Northern Beef Producers last Friday held their annual Commercial Cattle Competition at Charters Towers. While numbers were not abundant, the results will ensure they attract larger drafts for their 2019 sale.
Bullocks sold to 259c/kg, heifers topped at 232c and heavy cows topped at 230c. Cattle were drawn from Bowen, Collinsville, Belyando Junction and local areas. The Lisgar Pastoral Company (The Rea family, south of Townsville) had a big day out securing the top price in three of the four classes judged.
A number of Western Queenslanders made their annual pilgrimage to Brisbane for the running of The Stradbroke Handicap and with good reason.
The Frith family from Glen-Arden, Roma, made it trackside with Lizabeth leading the charge as the filly she has a share in, Champagne Cuddles (aptly named one thinks), ran third in Queensland’s premier sprint and will return in a fortnight for another tilt at a group one.
Charging home for fourth was Crack Me Up raced in partnership by Grant Daniel Long (GDL) head honcho Peter Daniel. Elizabeth Ferrier, Comyndale, Roma, was joined by most of her family in the members for her starter, Sesar that had little luck in the Group One JJ Atkins.