Western Australia’s cattle market has opened the year at a steady rate, according to market experts.
Westcoast Livestock auctioneer Neil Foale said farmers were “starting to smile again.”
“The supply is not as strong as it was so the demand will go up again right across the State,” he said.
“Prices have been going up and we’re seeing it all over the place.”
He said demand would get higher through autumn and winter.
But WA cattle consultant Greg Jones said considering factors such as a lack of live export, an oversupply of beef across the country and the high Australian dollar, the WA market would not pick up until March-April.
“In the short term farmers have no hope of the market getting better and obviously our costs keep rising, including prices, rates and a demand for higher wages,” he said.
Mr Jones said the amount of animals in Australia had increased by 10 per cent in the past five years to about 30 million.
Meat and Livestock Australia market information and analysis manager Tim McRae said MLA’s National Livestock Reporting Service had noted a small improvement in the markets this year.
“However, any longer term assessment at this time of year can be dangerous, with markets and operations still gathering pace after the holiday closures,” he said.
Auctioneer Brad Kamman said about 550 animals were expected at yesterday’s Westcoast Livestock weaner sale.
Prices at the January 9 sale were higher than before Christmas.
Heavy friesian steers sold between 120-130c/kg liveweight and beef steers averaged 140-160c/kg, up 5c/kg since the previous sale. Steer vealers fetched 150-165c/kg, heifers made 130-155c/kg and cows drew 105-116c/kg, up 10c/kg.