Annual calf sales opened to solid competition with the first week at Barnawartha, and the first few days of the Western District sales now complete.
Competition has been quite good with demand coming from many of the usual buyers, at these sales. Northern competition has been noted in all sales so far, and due in part to the weight of the cattle, feedlot competition has been a winner.
Volume buyers have set a good target for other buyers, and potentially for the other annual sales to come over the next few weeks. Normally, the Western District sales are first of the rank, but this year, Wodonga agents were first. As usual, speculation of who had the better sale, if any, was rife during the first week at Barnawartha.
After speaking with my colleague, Murray Arnel, the price averages virtually mirrored each other.
With nearly 10,000 steers and heifers sold at Barnawartha in the first week, and some 5000-6000 head in the west so far, liveweight price averages for heavier steers were 319 cents per kilogram liveweight, medium weight steers, around 335c/kg, and the small selection of lighter weight steers somewhere above 345c/kg.
Heifer prices were similar too with averages around 297-298c/kg lwt.
Now, we know the method of sale is different, liveweight in the west, and open auction in the north east.
If any comparisons could be drawn, only the light steers, 260kgs and under, sold better by open auction. It was said that Yea, Friday, was the better of the sales, due to more local competition.
It is fair to say, that nearly all cattle had been weighed, following a specified six hour curfew, or more. Weights were displayed, but as mentioned, two methods of selling occurred.
One stand out difference between the north east, and the west, was the demand for EU accredited cattle. Strong demand in the west saw a price difference of 12-15c/kg for EU, and little to no change in the north east.
I had several conversations around the benefit of paying 20-50c/kg more for these annual drafts, against their potential end selling price.
Take the current heavy steer, and bullock price under consideration, which sees steers and bullocks sell from $1700-$1950 for most.
Restocking with good quality steers from $1100-$1350, still leaves a good margin. If using $300 turnaround covers all expenses, then a good profit margin still exists.