The full impact of a dry season and a late autumn break with scarce hay supplies was on show at Pakenham last Thursday.
Young, light cattle abounded throughout the yarding of 1671 steers and heifers plus 65 cows and 114 calves.
"Some of the cattle are looking a bit rougher because there hasn't been the feed for them," Landmark Leongatha agent Andy Grant said.
A noticeable price gap opened between the lighter cattle and the heavier pens.
"If they're small, they suddenly drop and you wonder how $300 could disappear like that," Mr Grant said.
"Smaller plainer cattle made about $2 a kilogram but well-bred cattle weighing 350 kilos and above made $3 or more."
A pen of 17 Angus heifers weighing 400kg offered by Masuno of Lang Lang sold for $1090 a head or 272 cents a kilogram.
Angus steers averaging 490kg from A Humphries of Cora Lynn made $1570 or 320c/kg.
A pen of seven 447kg Angus steers from CA O'Halloran or Flinders achieved $1440 or 322c/kg.
Sharples and Pompei of Archies Creek made 318c/kg for 471kg Angus steers, 319c/kg for 463kg steers, 316c/kg for Angus-cross 496kg steers, 302c/kg for 504kg heifers, 302c/kg for 357kg steers but just 276c/kg for Angus-cross 343kg heifers.
Mr Grant said there were few surprises among the vendors and buyers who shuffled along the walkways.
"No blow-ins from out of the district, just the usual crowd," he said.
One of those new to the market however, was vendor Troy Kosemans of Garfield North.
There to sell, seven Angus steers weighing an average of 488kg, Mr Koesemans said he was hoping for $1400 to $1500 a head.
"Part of the reason I'm here is that we're still rebuilding fences after the bushfires," he said.
Also feeling the impact of the fires from the other side of the fence was Duke Veli of Iona.
"I'm having a sticky beak," he said.
Mr Veli had bought a load of hay home just one week before the bushfires but, with so much local fodder burned, hay had become scarce.
"The guy I bought the load from said he needed to keep the rest for himself," Mr Veli said.
"A week later he was completely burnt out.
"The season is not too bad now but serious rain only arrived three weeks ago and it's turning cold.
"Every sunny day is good value."
Alex Scott and Staff agent David Setches said he expects the final sale before the end of the financial year to be the last big yarding before spring.
"I'm expecting the last push of good cattle now as people try to get their numbers through for tax purposes," Mr Setches said.
"I think prices will firm a little, too."
"We've seen the second and third drafts of cattle at the yards and I think you'll see cattle lines run out.
"Those who have good quality cattle will hang onto them now until spring."
While the yarding was 200 or so cattle down on the previous sale, Mr Setches said the composition of the pens was changing.
"We saw a lot of cross-bred cattle coming out of South Gippsland dairy herds," he said.
"There have been big yardings at Koonwarra and people have been sending them up here knowing there have been firm prices.
Still, Mr Setches believes opportunities remain for buyers with feed.
"Take the five feedlotters and the butchers out of the market and there'd be very few buyers left at the rails," he said.
"Cows and calves were very tough.
"I saw third and fourth-calver Angus cows with Charolais calves aged about five weeks sold for $1000.
"You'd need a warm paddock with hay to feed them because the calves are pulling down heavily on the cows but they are definitely a great opportunity."