Vic weaners are hot property

Extremes in temperature didn't stop competition


Opinion
Winners of Rural Bank's Best Presented pen of steers were John and Sarah Adams with daughters Massie and Jessie at Barnawartha.

Winners of Rural Bank's Best Presented pen of steers were John and Sarah Adams with daughters Massie and Jessie at Barnawartha.

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Buyers came from Tasmania and NSW to Barnawartha to set the trend for early 2019.

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Breeding and quality are essential to any cattle sale and both of these traits led to a very good result for producers from North Eastern Victoria, last week.

Producers in the north east were the first to open the 2019 annual calf sales, last Thursday.

Due to supply nudging the selling centre’s capacity with nearly 7000 head yarded, and scorching temperatures exceeding 40 degrees, the Wodonga agents commenced the opening weaner calf sale early at North Victorian Livestock Exchange, Barnawartha, at 9am on Thursday.

The opening week of sales at NVLX featured Angus steers and heifers, with buyers rewarding the quality of the 10,000 head penned with strong competition.

Supply, quality and weight drove competition at the selling centre, with a soon to sail live export boat providing a solid market floor. Over the two days, Landmark International purchased 900 steers, from a total of around 7500 steers offered.

An evident lack of cattle in Tasmania resulted in the southern state being a major player, with two separate orders totalling 850 steers and heifers sail across Bass Straight in the first week of selling. These three orders alone, were only part of the story.

A feedlot order chased the heaviest steer calves, purchasing weights from 360-420kgs, for an average price around 308c/kg live weight.

Competition for backgrounding steers from Bathurst and Gunnedah, NSW, competed against local buyers for steers weighing about 280-320kg put a good floor in the sale, with prices for these steers fetching mostly between 315-335c/kg lwt.

The solid demand of the sale was was clear with drafts of cattle ranging from more than 100 to 300 head offered as “take one pen or the lot”, with several of these lines taken by the sole buyer in one bid reflecting the strength of demand.

Of the 850-head southern bound order, JBS Tasmania purchased 550 steers and heifers, and competed strongly against a private feedlot operator from Merriwa in NSW, for heifers.

This competition also clashed with several buyers of quality Angus heifers for future breeders, and this created some excellent results.

While the 10,000 head yarding in the first week at Barnawartha was comparable to the opening week of 2018 throughput, with Landmark Albury and Paull & Scollard merging, the Angus cattle were sold over two days this year, rather than three days in 2018.

The quality was better overall this year, despite the average weight being 20-40kgs lighter.

What did stand out was the number of steers and heifers that weighed over 300 kilograms this year, in what has been a difficult season to contend with for most producers.

Prices were only marginally lower year-on-year on a live weight price basis.

In the annual sales of 2018, there was more competition from local bullock fatteners, after a year of very good fat cattle prices. While there was some competition from these producers this year, it was certainly restricted.

Due to the changing dynamics of the competition this year, prices were more even, ranging mostly from 300-325c/kg. Fewer light weight cattle were penned in the opening week of 2019, which resulted in a smaller offering returning above 350c/kg lwt.

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