A lack of northern support didn’t diminish opening steer prices at Colac on Thursday, with rates well-up on pre-Christmas sales.
Per kilogram prices sat relatively close across all weight categories of Angus steers, with only lesser quality or very light pens falling below 300 cents a kilogram.
Buying demand was strongest on the heaviest pens – and in contrast to other years per kilogram prices didn’t ramp-up as the lots got lighter – likely a reflection of the season.
The first run of heavy Angus steers, 360-430kg, were in strong demand and made 315c/kg to 347c/kg.
The opening two pens of the 1947 head yarding were offered by Murray and Anne Howard of Beac and returned the top price of the sale.
Both lots of Angus steers, weaned, Hazeldean and Pathfinder blood, one averaging 432kg and the other 400kg, sold for $1390, equating to 321c/kg and 347c/kg.
Mr Howard said considering it had been so dry, he didn’t know what to expect, but described the returns for his opening pens as “tremendous”.
“Considering what has been happening the past six to 12 months, and the way this were with the pre-Christmas sales being tough, we are very happy,” he said.
The poor season didn’t impact the weights of the top of their steer draft, but Mr Howard said they did have to feed plenty of hay and some silage to get them through to the sale.
In comparison, the Howard’s steers topped at $1360 last year, with the heaviest pen making $1320.
This year their draft of 70 averaged $1285, or 333c/kg.
Also making good returns in the first lane were Mark and Leah Jacob of South Dreeite’s weaned Angus steers, March-April drop, Rosleigh and Glatz blood.
The top pen of 20 weighed 385kg and sold at $1295, or 336c/kg.
They offered 155 steers all up, with their second pen of 17 weighing 377kg and returning $1230, or 326c/kg. The next two pens of their draft made 338-343c/kg.
Mr Jacob said he was hoping for 300c/kg, so was very happy to receive above that, especially after a dry spring.
A bullock fattener purchased the Jacob’s top pens through Pakenham agency Everitt, Seeley and Bennetts, with strong Gippsland support also coming from Elders Korumburra for the first two lanes of heavy Angus steers.
SEJ Leongatha also operated as the calves dropped in weight, while Creek Livestock, Mount Gambier, South Australia, took a handful of pens
Landmark International began to operate as the pens dipped below 330kg, sitting fairly consistently in the $1050 to $1080 price range.
All remaining support was predominately local agents buying for grass fattening or backgrounding operations in the region, with some feedlot support.
Alistair Nelson of HF Richardson and Co, Colac, picked up plenty of pens for the local clients paying to a top of $1290, and said prices were strong.
“It is probably 10c/kg dearer than expected,” he said.
J Thompson sold eight to 10 month old Angus steers to $1250 twice, with the first pen of 19 weighing 397kg and equating to 314c/kg, while the second pen of 28 averaged 353kg and worked out at 354c/kg, the best per kilogram return of the heavy Angus steers.
J and D Osbourne sold 18 Weeran-blood March-April steers weighing 385kg at $1290, or 335c/kg, while on the second run of Angus JH Smith & Sons offered a pen of 14 at 303kg which returned $1090, or 359c/kg.
Charles Stewart Dove auctioneer Shelby Howard quoted the Angus run as 300-340c/kg with a lot of local support.
“I thought prior to the sale it was going to be good, I didn’t think it was going to be quite this strong, but it has come through with good results,” he said.
Charolais-cross calves received more varied competition, with the opening pen from TA & DE Richardson making $1220, or 290c/kg for the 420kg lots.
B&K Kershaw sold their top 20 Charolais-Angus, Mt William-blood, weighing 388kg for $1260, or 314c/kg, but the remainder of the two lanes sold from 280-295c/kg.
Nigel Barry of Corangamite Park at Alvie had the best presented Charolais pen of the sale, with the Red Angus-cross calves weighing 318kg and selling at $950, or 298c/kg.
Mr Barry said he was disappointed with the price, but happy to receive the reward given the tough season, with his cattle 40kg to 50kg below their usual weights.
He went on to sell the straight Red Angus calves, 330kg and AI-bred, at $1110, or 336c/kg, to Elders Korumburra, while a second pen of those weighing 283kg sold at $850, or 300c/kg.
A small line of Hereford steers sold at 270-305c/kg.
Demand disappeared almost altogether for the handful of very light pens below 260kg, with prices estimated to have dipped close to 200c/kg for those.