FEEDER buyers are primed to give restockers a fair run for their money judging by the startling uptick in fed cattle prices, indicating the soaring young cattle market could still have some way to go.
The Eastern Young Cattle Indicator is now sitting at a phenomenal 698.75 cents a kilogram carcase weight, up more than 200c since the rain started and close to 250c on this time last year.
Analysts and agents believe that while we may have already seen the 'shock' jump, the EYCI still hasn't reached its peak.
For northern producers who have managed to maintain cattle, the competition for the best returns between supplying bullocks, feeder or boat cattle is now becoming red hot.
Over-the-hooks fed cattle prices in Queensland have jumped in a highly unusual fashion - for both 100 and 70 day fed cattle well over 50c/kg cwt in the past four weeks.
Analysts say that indicates either very strong demand - which goes against global market chatter around coronavirus and weakening economies - or the fact supply is running desperately short.
Rabobank senior animal proteins analyst Angus Gidley-Baird said cattle in the 300 to 400 kilogram weight range are about to become very hot property.
In the latest cattle market Rabobank podcast, he said there were now reports of live exporters looking as far south as Dubbo for supply.
"We are entering a unique position in terms of local cattle supply and different interactions between the live cattle market, backgrounders and feedlot operators," he said.
Rabobank's rural manager based in Darwin Barry Gerschwitz said some live export boats leaving Townsville were now topping up in Darwin, indicating they were struggling to get the numbers they needed from Queensland.
Boat cattle would likely remain in very short supply for at least the next couple of months until mustering was well underway, he said.
While some good falls had been received in the Northern Territory, reduced volumes were still expected.
Rainfall averages were still well down and the Barkly had barely had enough to get the black soil up and firing, Mr Gerschwitz reported.
"We suspect there may also be some surprise at losses from the drought, which people won't know until they start mustering," he said.
Where there was grass, cattle will likely be held back to rebuild.
Meat & Livestock Australia analyst Penny Graham said the rain had seen the trend of live cattle prices trading at a premium to domestic feeder steers reversed.
In today's Prices and Markets newsletter, she reported Queensland saleyard feeder steers averaged 373c/kg live weight as of last week, against live export steers from Darwin at 360c/kg.
Big numbers of Territory cattle went into Queensland last year chasing grass and Ms Graham said if finished cattle prices hold up, more cattle from the north could be destined for domestic feedlots.
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The story Fed cattle price hike sets scene for red hot competition first appeared on Farm Online.