In spite of being first cab off the rank, the Sharp Fullgrabe selling team didn't have an easy day at their annual Mountain Calf Sale at Hinnomunjie on Tuesday.
With the effects of the dry season written all over the 1470 head yarding, the company's sole auctioneer Mick O'Callaghan toiled manfully to keep the sale rolling as a reluctant buying gallery bid cautiously at rates of 220-280 cents a kilogram for steers and 150-230c/kg for heifers.
Sharp Fullgrabe principal Graeme Fullgrabe said as each day passed, the whole of the eastern states was getting drier and drier.
"And while the effects of the season were obvious all around, the number of places left where cattle could be relocated to is now becoming less and less," Mr Fullgrabe said.
He said the best end of the 950 head steer yarding, which averaged $668 a head, made reasonable money on current market valuations, but the smaller end that needed time and tucker faced a very difficult market.
"Buying these cattle must be viewed as being better than having money in the bank," he said.
"But finding somewhere to feed them is another task."
Such was the quality of the yarding that merely two pens managed sales that exceed the $1000 mark.
The first was the opening pen sold, a yarding of 31 Hereford/Shorthorn steers, 345kg, offered by Ray Pendergast, Penderscourt.
The second was a yard of 25 Hereford steers sold by PJ & SM Soutter, which were estimated to weigh about 315kg.
A second pen of the Soutter family's Hereford steers made $870 (300kg), while BS Dyer sold a pen of 23 Hereford steers (305kg), at $960.
Most other steer sales made from $550-$860.
Short but equally season-affected black steers made similar rates of 230-275c/kg and averaged $602.
LH & SE Pendergast sold 20 Angus steers, 310kg, at $810, and a yard of 30 Angus/Hereford steers, 270kg, at $730.
A yard of DF Olsson Angus/Hereford, 240kg, made $630, while a yard of Vic Farm Angus steers aged 16-18 months, 360kg, made $830.
A second yard of 24 Vic Farm Angus steers, 300kg, made $870, while PJ & SM Souter sold 26 Angus steers, 240kg, at $670.
Several yards of Charolais were purchased to grain feed.
RAP & HE Bowman sold a pen, 290kg, at $870, while BK Sievers sold a yard of 16, 250kg, at $660.
The demand for heifers, which averaged $460, started briskly with a yard of fresh-conditioned Charolais selling to $715.
Offered by RAP and HE Bowman, these were estimated at 300kg, while most other lighter Hereford and Angus-cross heifers made $400-$600, with a few lots left unsold after failing to meet the vendor's expectations.
Mr Fullgrabe said while the money for heifers was below expectations for some, the addition of a further $50 a head in freight for the buyers to get the cattle off the mountain, made the outcome not as bad as seemed.