SPRING cattle prices have slumped in southern Australia.
Prime cattle prices have dropped by as much as $100 in the past week.
The benchmark Eastern Young Cattle Indicator fell 11c/kg in the past week, to 334.75c/kg, as demand dipped from lotfeeders, processors and restockers.
Other cattle price indicators have held up in northern NSW and Queensland.
The EYCI is at its lowest since February 2010, when it was at 337.75c/kg.
At Pakenham on Monday, some cattle were up to 13c/kg cheaper, on the back of a weaker market last week where vealer heifers were $100 cheaper and steer vealers were down $70.
Producers, though, are continuing to send cattle in, with Pakenham's numbers rising 30 per cent to more than 2000 on Monday.
It was a similar story at Wagga Wagga early this week where nearly 3000 cattle were sold, up 25 per cent. Here, rates were also pegged back by up to 13c/kg.
Pakenham associated agents president and Rodwells manager Pat Reddan said the cattle market was "very tough".
"We had a very good yarding on Monday and the right article (cattle) was there but butchers are just having cattle thrown at them at the moment with the numbers coming in," he said.
Mr Reddan said one client had European-cross vealers that sold on Monday for 209c/kg.
Last year, they made 230-250c/kg.
"Until the flush of numbers is finished, the market will be ordinary," he said.
He is advising clients to hold stock if they can, but said some producers would be forced to sell due to a lack of feed.
Meat and Livestock Australia's chief economist Tim McRae said the dry spring, combined with fully booked processors, was pushing saleyard rates down.
"What is happening to prices is typical of a poor spring," Mr McRae said. "And the dollar is also impacting now supplies are back to normal.
"It's exactly how the market should have looked when the dollar is where it is, but prices held up in the past couple of years thanks to supply shortages."
Mr McRae said a big fall in yearling heifer prices had contributed to the fall in the EYCI. Yearling heifers have been the tough item to sell in store and prime markets in the past few weeks and he said this could signal the southern cattle herd tailing off in its post-drought rebuilding program.