The Sheep Deer and Cattle Report: Shine comes off export beef but saleyard sales still hot

More easing of beef schedules this week as quota restrictions continued to hinder manufactured beef into the US from cow and bull grades, and the rise of 6 cents since it’s September low by the US dollar, is now affecting prime grades.

Heavier weights produced by US feedlotters in response to the high prices has seen more product on the market than anticipated, and consumer resistance is evident to beef with many turning to cheaper pork and chicken.

Beef export returns from last year exceeded lamb and mutton for the first time for 20 years, with value increasing 39% during that period to $3.2 billion dollars.

Demand  continues for prime cattle in the Canterbury saleyards with values reaching record highs of over $3.30/kg lwt this week for prime saleyard steers, to match any price anywhere in NZ.

In a coup for the often maligned meat industry, Craig Hickson was awarded NZ entrepreneur of the year for his sheep, beef, and venison processing business Progressive Meats.

Schedules were steady this week as many of last years lambs are now being graded hogget, although at this stage saleyard prices have yet to impose a discount for these older animals.

Processed export lamb numbers appear to have nearly reached last years tallies but with many ewe lambs killed in the drought areas this year, more retrenchment from sheep may still be seen.

Tailing and docking are now in full swing and reported percentages are good after few weather issues over the lambing period, but everyone is nervous about how dry the region is, especially this early.

Advisers and MPI officials are encouraging farmers to plan for El Nino drought conditions this year as already the at risk areas are very dry.

Silver Fern Farm shareholders have overwhelmingly accepted the Shanghai Mailing plan, and the second resolution to get a full report on a merger with Alliance was also thrown out by a big margin.

With only Overseas Investment Commission approval now to achieve, farmers will be looking forward to achieving the benefits proposed by the deal which has given the red meat sector optimism for the future, something severely lacking in the past.

Alliance has put on a brave face as a result of this merger, but plans to up it’s game with better pricing communication and promising to return to it’s co-operative principles.

Reports from the big live sheep shipment to Mexico from Canterbury suggests low pregnancy rates from an early scanning, and that farmers recieved $130 a head which was 30-40% ahead of the market.

A stronger currency and quiet market interest combined to drop wool prices in a small offering at last weeks North Island wool auction.

Fine crossbred prices were most affected with falls of between 13-17%, but coarser types fared better, but their indicator still dropped below $6 clean for the first time in 6 weeks.

Merino NZ claim it’s contract operation has put extra money in wool growers pockets and also reduced the volatility of wool pricing for the fibre.

Small schedule price falls this week possibly reflective of the rising Euro, as chilled game production moves into full swing and optimism returns to the venison market.

The velvet harvest is now a three daily task as this quick growing appendage reaches its marketable stage, and managers are again reminded of the importance of animal welfare and food safety responsibilities as they remove this product.