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  • Rikki Lambert

Your farmgate data for the week ending 30 April

This week's positive news is for grain farmers with global and domestic prices improving for crops already in the silos and on their way in trucks and trains, however Victorian and SA farmers are hoping for a bit of rain while their NSW compatriots are flat out seeding.

The Australian dollar remains steady at 78c to the USD, still 20 per cent higher than it was at the same time year ago.

Water trade in the Murray-Darling Basin rose to 124GL traded at a median price of $80 per megalitre. All bar 2GL was traded in the southern basin.


Last week the Eastern Young Cattle Indicators began to slip and fell further across the eastern seaboard this week, plunging back to 876.62c, back to the previous trough 3 weeks earlier. However, looking more closely, the north-eastern prices in Queensland and northern NSW fell - but prices in the south-east, principally Victoria, held firm or rose slightly.

The Eastern States indicators show very slight falls in feeder (457c) and heavy steer (371c) categories, and a 9c rise in yearling steer prices to 473c.

Despite slaughter numbers climbing in recent weeks' data and now sitting above 2019 levels (but behind 2020 levels), Meat and Livestock Australia projects a major reduction in slaughter volumes on the back of significant rainfall in northern Australia. South Australia and Victorian slaughter numbers remain lower than the previous 2 years, whereas they are higher than 2019 levels in NSW and Queensland.

The national herd is expected to increase by 5 per cent to 25.9 million head, close to its 2019 level before drought conditions induced de-stocking.

MLA's marketing information manager Stephen Bignell said:

“Summer rainfall encouraged producers to acquire as many cattle as possible before the northern dry season starts - pushing the Eastern Young Cattle Indicator (ECYI) to break the 900c/kg barrier for the first time in history.
“Carcase weights are also expected to increase 3% this year as producers and feedlots utilise the abundance of pasture and cheaper feed which is translating into heavier weights.”


This week Victoria's medium steers (413.1c, down 8.8c) were pipped on the eastern seaboard for the top price by South Australia (418.2c), with WA the nation's highest at 512c.

Prices nonetheless improved in processor yearling steers (473.9c, up 41.3c), vealer steers continued to improve (482.1c, +21.4c) and heavy steers (389c, +12.8c).

Western Victoria's cattle prices remain generally inferior to central west and Gippsland prices, although feeder yearling steers (445.5c) earned better prices than in Gippsland (408c).

On Wednesday, Swan Hill yardings remained low, falling a further 56 head to 561.


As restocker yearling prices fell across the eastern states, NSW (476.3c, down 107.6c) fell hardest, losing last week's best price title to Qld (520.3c) but maintained the best eastern vealer steer price at 524c (-5.3c), WA the nation's best at 539.8c.

Southern NSW prices remain strong compared to Hunter, central west and northern NSW, leading in all categories except vealer steers (536.5c) with the Hunter price at 541.1c.

Wagga trade on Monday fell back from the previous week's slight gains, down 755 head to 2,545 despite the dry conditions. Whereas last week's sales conditions were favourable, results were mixed this week according to MLA:

"The limited availability of good domestic trade kept processors bidding strongly for the correct well finished stock. Secondary cattle were well supplied with a large percentage purchased by feedlots. All the regular export and domestic buyers were in attendance. There weren’t as many feedlot orders in play this week, which resulted in cheaper trends. Restockers also took a back seat and were very cautious when bidding. "


South Australian sales volumes are low so price data is unreliable, but nonetheless SA had the best feeder yearling steer price in the eastern states at 469c, thanks to an 86c rise on last week. Medium steers rose 14.8c to 418.2c, while vealer steers fell 18.3c to 443.7c.

Mount Gambier sales volumes remain low, picking up 131 head on Wednesday to just 528 yarded. MLA reports that quality was very mixed, while the report from Tuesday's low trade at Dublin's SA Livestock Exchange of just 200 head (down 220) was extremely mixed. Similarly, Tuesday's trade at Naracoorte was very subdued, halving to 469 head, with quality mixed - and mixed pricing as a result.


Restocker lamb prices fell 57c to 908c this week, while light lambs rose 10c to 849c. All other prices stabilised after recent falls, with heavy lambs at 777c, merino lambs 778c, mutton 647c and trade lambs 809c.


Victorian prices remain healthy across the board, with heavy lamb prices (782c) now highest in the nation, pulling slightly clear of NSW (777c).

Swan Hill resumed trade after a fortnight off, with steep falls down 3,800 head to 5,400 yarded. Quality was mixed with some good drafts of fed lambs penned alongside clean-up lots to make space for cropping and the onset of winter.


NSW maintains strong prices across the board, with the nation's best restocker lamb price at 981c, falling from 1,009c the week before. Merino lambs (789c, +34c) are also the nation's best price, while heavy lambs (777c, -11c) are second only to Victoria (782c) after Queensland's leading price last week fell.

Southern NSW prices are stronger than other regions of the state in light lambs (881c), merino lambs (793c) and restocker lambs (995c).

Following on from strong numbers last week at Wagga Wagga, attributed to dry local conditions sustaining higher than usual trade in the district, Wagga yarded 39,490 sheep, down over 11 per cent on the week before.


South Australian prices now sit 10-15 per cent lower than other states, except in mutton (648c). Restocker lamb prices slumped from last week's gains, down 88c to 882c. Light lambs (766c) also fell hard, down 71c, while merino lambs climbed slightly (761c, +17c).

Mount Gambier trade remained subdued on Wednesday, picking up slightly to 762 head with mixed quality.

Numbers may have been up 8 per cent last week but fell by a third this week at Dublin on Tuesday to 10,000 head, with quality again reported to be extremely mixed.


The Eastern Market Indicator at Australian Wool Exchange rose in the latest report, up to 1312c per kilogram, rising 1.63 per cent or 21c, returning to where it was in mid-March. Australian Wool Innovation reports:

Large rises on all Super fine Merino types produced positive sentiment at this week’s Australian wool auctions. At the finest end of the Merino type spectrum, gains of 50ac and above were achieved throughout selling with the interest and competition in this area intense. Other areas of the Merino fleece type enjoyed smaller price advances not just due to the positive atmosphere created, but also steady enquiry and stable foreign exchange scenarios aiding in relative stability.

AWI forecast 50,821 bales' trade for this week, falling to around 37,000 for the first two weeks of May.

Prices remain well up on last April, but still well short of the 2,000c mark set in the Aprils of 2018 and 2019.

The latest available report from Elders shows a fluctuating sales week ending 23 April:

"The Australian wool market found some legs last week with a strong jump on the back of renewed demand from China, with just a sprinkling of enquiry from other destinations as well. The story was all about superfine merino with any lots finer than 18.5-micron being strongly sought after. These categories saw increases of up to 100 cents, and even a little more in the Sydney market which was playing catch up to Melbourne’s extra selling day of the previous week. Fine micron merino types followed along, but in a more subdued manner, whilst the medium merino types struggled to move forward, but may be in for a change in coming weeks."


Pig slaughter numbers continue to climb, up slightly this week to 93,323. Slaughter numbers are at the highest they have been for two years.

ABARES reports that the eastern seaboard prices for pigs now sits at 359c / kg cwt, this week climbing 6 per cent, taking it above the price on offer at the same time last year, and up on the 320c being offered at the same time in 2019.


Global dairy trade prices remain strong on the ABARES data compiled on Wednesday, albeit steady on the previous week but skim milk powder 37 per cent higher than a year ago and whole milk 29 per cent higher than the same time last year.

Grains and Oilseeds

GrainCentral reports that some prices are rallying across the nation:

Prices for wheat, barley and sorghum have rallied in eastern Australia this week as traders and consumers battle to get growers to sell, and road freight remains tight.
While north-west Victoria and parts of South Australia are still waiting for planting rain, most growers in New South Wales and Queensland are flat out getting their winter crops into the ground.
In Queensland and northern NSW, many are also harvesting summer crops, and are therefore unable to take grain to port or metropolitan consumers in their own trucks.

Barley prices for Melbourne for May are up $12 to $270, while wheat prices by the same metric are up $22 to $335.

AWB reported this week that there was plenty to be positive about the outlook for farmers, noting a decent moisture profile for NSW readers and:

"... commodity markets have been rallying, presenting marketing opportunities for both old and new season grains. The canola market in particular has been exciting to watch, doubly so for those currently putting it in the ground. Strong global oilseed demand combined with supply concerns have sent canola futures soaring in recent weeks, translating to a new season bid to Australian growers A$100 per tonne higher than the beginning of the month.
"A frost of ‘agricultural disaster’ magnitude in France and Germany will subtract much needed rapeseed from an already tight oilseed supply situation. Canada, the world’s biggest producer and exporter of canola, have been confirmed as buying cargos of canola from Ukraine, which is highly unusual and a clear demonstration of the tightness in global vegetable oil stocks.
"Supporting markets from the demand side of the ledger is China and its well documented and seemingly endless demand for most things, including feed stocks and vegetable oils. China continues the huge effort of rebuilding their pig herd after last year’s African Swine Flu cull, which along with the ongoing westernisation of diets makes for a strong demand story for grains and oilseeds."


Wheat prices are on the steep climb upwards globally, continuing a rally that began at the start of April, now sitting at around US $315 / tonne, rising 11 per cent this week (on top of 6 per cent the week before) according to ABARES.

Australian milling wheat prices climbed 2 per cent this week to A$360 per tonne, with feed wheat also up 2 per cent to $357.

These prices are still short of the same prices in 2020 that were trading about 12 per cent higher at the same time last year.


Feed barley prices at Port Adelaide are steady but still well down on the previous two years' prices, sitting at around $300 per tonne.


Canola prices continue to hover at the 600c mark, still up 70 per cent on prices a year ago.

Prices continue to rocket past the same levels in 2020 in a bullish run compared to other grain and oilseed commodities.


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