East Gippsland producers were looking to the sky, hoping that the Bureau of Meteorology’s forecast was right, as rain is the only thing stopping the outpouring of breeders’ cattle.
With rain expected Friday and over the weekend, a reduced supply of cattle was penned at Bairnsdale.
Agents drew for 3400 head, but the eventual yarding was 2500 cattle.
It was impressive how good the yarding was considering the extended drought in this part of Victoria.
Producers have to be congratulated for how they have managed their cattle, but for many, this has come at a big cost.
While not all cattle were in forward to fat condition, this yarding offered potential buyers numerous pens of yearling steers, and many cattle that would normally be sold in spring.
Hopefully any rain received may help with water issues, as many dams are empty or stale, which is affecting cattle quality.
Rain did start to fall during the course of the sale, with the sound on the roof of the yards inspiring some solid competition.
There was good competition for feeder steers and heifers, and some demand for younger heifers to background for future grain feeding, with a good share of the competition coming from South and West Gippsland.
Recent fat cattle prices have improved and this aided a solid market for steers, but many heifers sold at cheaper rates.
Most of the yearling steers, over 420 kilograms, sold from $1200-$1470 per head, with some competition from a processor for the best quality.
GA Boyes sold 12 Hereford steers for the top money.
J Stewart sold 26 yearling Angus steers for $1420 and $1400, equaling 286 and 291 cents per kilogram liveweight.
PA Smith, Omeo, sent 67 yearling Hereford steers to Bairnsdale, and these sold to $1350.
Steers weighing under 400kg sold to better competition from all sectors of the buying field.
Karoonda Park, Gelantipy, sold 16 Hereford steers for $1090, and numerous other pens sold over $1000 too.
Some of these were offered by K&J Alexander, from their 150 EU accredited Angus steer weaners, which would normally be sold in August.
The first 45 head sold for $1050, the balance from $650 for very light weight steers, to $980 for another two pens.
Purchased mostly by Gary Owen, a repeat buyer keeping them in the EU system, these steers averaged close to 350c/kg lwt.
One of the outstanding sales of the day was that of 56 Angus steers of CC&MP Wheeler, Buchan South.
Manager Geoff Cameron said they have looked after these steers as best as possible, but the season has beaten them.
Being in very plain condition, these sold from $765-$870, and buyer Kevin Clark, Landmark Leongatha, said these steers will do exceptionally well, having a large frame, only needing good feed and attention.
Buyers benefited from some of the smaller lots, and some of the younger steers.
Prices for many steers were between $650-$950, with some of the youngest steers upward from $550.
There was some joy in the sale of heifers, although many sold at cheaper rates.
Top of the heifers was 29 yearling Angus, by Nungatta Station, making $920-$1090.
Processor competition aided some sales, with M&T Clark selling 15 Charolais heifer vealers for $880.
However, the next pen were Charolais heifers only 23kg lighter, and in not quite as good condition, which made only $650.
With producers not wanting to carry young heifers through what could well be a very tough winter, many heifers sold between $400 and $640.
Colin Scott & Co sold 60 Hereford heifers from $620-$640, with their youngest heifers making just over $300.
The Willows sold 30 Limousin cross heifer calves from $500-$540, with the top pen making $250 less than their brothers.
R&F Davidson sold 20 Simmental cross heifer calves for $480.