Cows swamp prime markets

Continued dry conditions have seen cattle producers dip into breeding stock to save core herd

Stock and Land Beef

Cows are increasingly making up a high percentage of prime cattle market yardings as producer consign breeding stock to lighten stocking rates in the dry conditions.

Cattle producers are being forced to sell breeding cattle to ensure the maintenance of a core herd as dry conditions continue.


Markets reported by the National Livestock Reporting Service (NLRS) show many prime markets across south east Australia are carrying a high percentage of female cattle.

This comes at a time when the Eastern Young Cattle Index (EYCI) dipped under 500c/kg for the first time since June 2015. The fall over the past two weeks has been almost 8.5% or 43 points.

Over its three years above 500c/kg the EYCI rose to a height of 719c/kg in September 2016 and remained over 600c/kg for 56 weeks.

The cow number scenario was shown at Bairnsdale on Thursday where in a yarding of 1550 cattle more than 50 per cent were cows – around 780 head.

Bairnsdale Sharp Fullgrabe principal, Graeme Fullgrabe, said the cows were in store condition as the dry conditions continue to adversely affect the region. Many of the cows carried calves or were pregnancy tested in calf.

“People are starting to get into their breeders now because it’s so dry and many are just consigning a load each week,” he said.

Mr Fullgrabe said he bought 200 cows –  of which 176 were PTIC  – at an average of $640 for a client who “had a bit of feed”. He paid 110-170c/kg. “They were in light condition but excellent cows,” he said.

Before the recent rains in parts of Gippsland, Leongatha held Wednesday week ago, yarded around 1100 mostly dairy cows while to the north on Thursday some 2200 cows and grown heifers lifted total Dubbo, NSW yard numbers to 7900.

At Wagga Wagga, Monday a yarding of 6330 cattle included 2100 cows – again it was dry conditions that forced stock to market. Heavy cows made 150-208c/kg, leaner grades 106-174c/kg and store cows from 108-208c/kg. The NLRS reported increased numbers of lighter weight weaners while trade cattle sold averaged 13c/kg cheaper.

At NVLX Barnawartha, Tuesday, supply was down 200 to 1200 head but it was insufficient to stem the cheaper trend. NLRS said vealers lacked finish selling 16c/kg down. Trade heifers lost 19c to average 244c and money for feeder and trade steers fell nine and 13 cents respectively.

Grown and heavy steers also felt the pressures of the cheaper trend – sold down by 7-8c/kg lwt as the best made to 277c/kg, to average 258-261c.

Sale numbers at Pakenham Monday were also eased by 250 to 1045 head. Vealers lost 10-20c/kg in value trade steers lost 5-10c, feeder and restock steer lots fell 10-25c and grown and heavy steer eased 7-10c/kg lwt.


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