PRIOR to this week’s horrendous fires that have presumably damaged a lot of forest and some grazing country, it has been of growing concern to observe the shrinking dominance of the interstate inquiry that ruled early January weaner sales.
In fact in the past fortnight well before these fires it has been interesting to see that increasingly local regions have needed to absorb their own locally-bred cattle in order to have a “successful” sale as the interstate buying has progressively dried up.
While this was understandable at the big south east weaner sale at Naracoorte, South Australia, two Thursdays ago where steer prices averaged 175 cents a kilogram liveweight, to see it again at our northern-most market at Wodonga on Thursday last was intriguing.
At Wodonga the steer market averaged 162c/kg lwt in an average and mixed line-up yarding however in several conversations I had before and also on that day I’ve commented the litmus test for future market “success” would be the Wangaratta Blue Ribbon annual weaner sale held last Friday.
Well Friday has come and gone and after another scorching week of high temperatures, hot winds and with now the disaster of the fires lumped in, the success of future upcoming weaner sales is almost impossible to pick.
You see at Wangaratta where an outstanding yarding of 2200 steers and 900 heifers were penned the steer sale averaged 162c/kg lwt while heifer sales averaged 157c/kg lwt.
This rate - especially for the steer yarding - is as much as 30c/kg lower than the early January sales in the north east while heifer rates are about 12-15c less.
It should also be noted that at Wangaratta a number of heifer sales realised more per kilogram that some of the similar weighted steers.
As you can see while there was not much difference between the average steer and heifer rates the concerning feature of this sale was that local buying absorbed a large percentage of the steer yarding.
These cattle were mostly booked out to local account buyers in the Oven and King Valleys an area where fires are again threatening.
*Extract from prime market analyst's Murray Arnel's weekly column Prime Talk.
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