JUST like most areas of Victoria and the Riverina, the need for rain is paramount.
With one of the driest winters on record, the Gippsland region has suffered due to a lack of rain and recurring frosts.
In the east, the sell off of annual drafts of autumn drop calves has been brought forward by many producers, with a large yarding at Heyfield last week and two feature sales at Bairnsdale in the coming week.
The three sales amounting close to 8,000 store cattle up for sale within seven days.
The calves on offer at Heyfield were about 30-50kg lighter than previous years, with the trend expected to continue into next week’s sales.
As a result of these large sales and decreasing demand for feedlot cattle, it is expected to put pressure on the west and south Gippsland backgrounders and bullock fatteners to absorb this high influx of cattle.
With the season in these areas only struggling, an early spring would be welcomed.
Compared to previous years where we would normally be seeing prices increasing for all classes of cattle. Currently, the price trend is decreasing, with no sign of changing in the foreseeable future.
Numbers of prime cattle entering the saleyard is declining, with producers and agents opting to send cattle direct to processors.
It is well known that several export abattoirs are on limited kill numbers and with a premature sell off of prime cattle, many are booked out several weeks or months in advance.
This abundance of cattle has led to their participation in the saleyard market being limited.
In the coming months, there are concerns as to how many prime cattle will come onto the market in the spring, due to the floundering season and in addition with a large sell off of medium to heavy weight feeder steers over the past two months in Gippsland selling centres.
Cheaper grain prices enabled feedlotters to place a higher value on cattle, not allowing restockers to be active in the market, putting pressure on future supply of grass finished cattle.
With an ongoing decline of cattle prices, the optimism of backgrounders and finishers alike is somewhat diminishing. This is linked with concerns over the direction of the Australian dollar and the impact it could have on export cattle prices in the near future.
In saying that, the market is a Dynamic thing.
With every fluctuation in price brings opportunity and I believe that once the market finds its settling place we will be in a much better position than what we once were.