It was somewhat of a surprise to find that within the space of 20-30 kilometres, the quality of the Benambra-born and raised weaners could be so much more advanced and polished than those from the rest of the region.
But that, according to Elders Omeo manager David Hill, has been the luck of the draw as far as where the rain fell within the high country during the spring, with the Benambra bush country hanging on best.
That and the improved quality genetics that has been invested in Benambra herds saw a more receptive field of buyers compete and deliver better than expected prices.
The Elders yarding, which was the third sale on the opening day of the Mountain Calf Sales, offered 812 steers and 519 heifers.
And typical of the Benambra sale, the Hereford breed was dominant with a handful of Charolais calves embedded in the 1331 head yarding.
Mr Hill said competition from a couple of major feeder operators saw prices on the lead drafts sell 20-30 cents a kilogram above expectations.
He said a number of local buyers, who had also changed their farming practices into grass-finishing operations, also purchased a percentage of the locally-bred cattle, which made it difficult to purchase cattle under $800 a head in the lead run of the steers.
D. Betts, Omeo, sold a pen of four 16-18 month-old Herefords at $1100.
BJ & JB Carroll, Benambra, sold a pen of six Charolais steers at $1060 and a further 18 Charolais steers at the same money.
Then in a tight knit bunch, LH & SE Pendergast, Benambra, sold 13 Hereford steers at $980, AG & SM Pendergast, Benambra, sold 34 Hereford steers at $970, KW & JA Pendergast, Benambra, sold 14 Hereford also at $970, while $960 was the price for RG & AH Faithfull, Benambra, who sold 26 Hereford steers, and WA Pendergast & Son, Benambra, who sold a pen of 12 Hereford steers.
Other sales to top the $900 mark were CE & DG Anderson, Benambra, who sold 20 Hereford steers at $940, and RLJ, JA, MF & EM Pendergast, Benambra, who sold 16 Hereford steers at $930.
Overall, steer sales averaged $775.95, and lead drafts mostly made 260-285c/kg.
Second and third draft steers were mostly sold in the $600-$850 price bracket.
These again were mostly sold in the 230-260c/kg range, which Mr Hill suggested prices were 20-30c/kg better than was expected.
The heifer market, which also returned far better returns than was previously anticipated, saw breeder interest underpinned by a live export order to Kazakhstan.
This saw nine lots or a total of 125 heifers sold at prices between $900-$980, with the best-priced a pen of 21 Charolais offered by LH & SE Prendergast.
The top of the whitefaced sales was a yard of 12 sold at $960 by RG & AH Faithfull, while Ray and Max Prendergast sold a pen of 10 Hereford heifers at $900 as heifer sales overall averaged $682.52.