Last week, the first market days of 2018, all started with a whimper.
Supply levels were down on pre-Christmas markets, making them very small.
Despite this being the first week where all markets return to a normal timetable, supply was not up to the levels expected.
Even after the hottest day recorded for many years, there was still not a big rush of numbers.
Maybe some producers were speculating that the dramatic fire at Thomas Foods International, Murray Bridge, plant, could affect competition.
All classes of cattle were yarded, although, grown steers and bullocks were stifled.
Just as well, because competition was steady at best, and prices were firm to cheaper.
Prices were unchanged for the best quality bullocks, selling to 277c/kg, However with most selling between 260&269c, averages were 3c/kg lower.
The annual January calf sales saw plenty of top condition steers and heifers penned, which included some yearlings.
Prices for these steers and heifers were well above their counterparts in physical sales this week.
At Pakenham, Monday, it was rare to see any cattle sell above 300c/kg, even some of the best vealers and grain assisted cattle sold from 285-305c/kg.
Top quality vealers at Barnawartha sold to 313c/kg, which was the top of any market.
Feedlot and restocker competition still accounted for most of the demand of yearling steers and heifers at Wagga Wagga, Barnawartha, and Shepparton.
Wagga Wagga, Monday, is usually the best guide to these purchases, and the first sale for 2018 was no different. However, prices were cheaper with most steers selling from 270-300c, top of 345c/kg, and heifers mostly 250-275c/kg lwt.
Quality across most markets was quite mixed, but did include the best of each category.
Manufacturing bullocks, grown heifers, and cows all featured in weaker demand. According to MLA’s market reporters, not all processors operated fully.
It took some very good quality Friesian bullocks to reach 232c/kg, with most making from 214-225c/kg lwt. Similar to this scenario was cow sales. Demand was not as strong. Many cows are displaying good condition, and weight, but few made over 225c/kg.
Pakenham’s Tuesday cow market still remains the anomaly for prices. Whether it is the closeness to most processors, or the very good quality, which I doubt, good quality beef cows sold from 220-244c/kg lwt.
The first EYCI figure for 2018 was 561.50c/kg.