The exceptional season may be behind producers’ lack of need to sell cattle this year, which is a direct contrast to the start of 2016 when dry conditions created some large markets, early in January.
Pakenham agents offered 1200 head, and Wagga Wagga 3200 cattle. Tuesday saw Wodonga agents pen 1,700, and along with other Tuesday sales, and those of Monday, all were smaller than predicted, and definitely lower than comparative sales last year.
This, plus the fact that the annual weaner calf sales have been quite a bit dearer than physical sales, has led to strong competition from restockers and feedlots in these physical markets, aiding a lift in prices.
Vealer prices varied between 5-10 cents per kilogram liveweight dearer, and trade steer and heifers prices up to 20c/kg higher. Similar rises were noted for feeder cattle, and in prices paid by restockers.
Prices for better quality vealers were mostly from 350-368c with restockers paying up to 394c/kg for lighter weight calves. At this price, younger steers at physical sales are still 20-50c/kg behind the annual weaner sales, but they have less choice of supply and quality at these fat cattle sales.
Due purely to the lack of sufficient numbers, yearling and grown cattle sold very well, all showing significant price rises, Monday and Tuesday. Prime bullocks and Pakenham and Wodonga sold to a top of 336c/kg, and some trade steers reached 368c/kg at Shepparton, Tuesday, for supplementary fed yearlings.
Similarly, demand for cows has been a lot stronger with supply not equalling the demand, now that all export processors are back at work.
Returning to a normal week saw cow sale operate at Wagga Wagga, Pakenham, Camperdown and Shepparton, although generally supply was down compared to a full trading week prior to Christmas.
Competition was very strong at most sales, but prices were higher everywhere. Some sales quoted up to 20c/kg dearer.
Pakenham scored the highest price for very good quality beef cows reaching 276c, and the lowest price for similar cows was 246c/kg at Camperdown. Remembering that this market is a pre-weigh sale and prices are adjusted by the buyers. A solid run of beef cow prices were from 245-265c/kg.
Leaner dairy cows continue to sell well, and were also selling at the higher price levels. Many 2 score cows sold from 233-260c with most of the poor quality, lean 1 score cows from 145-220c/kg lwt.