Prices at Pakenham's fortnightly store sale continued to tick up, on the back of constrained supply and increased demand.
Feedlots were again very active on the heavier portion of the yarding of 1650 steers and heifers and about 80x80 cows and calves.
Stock was drawn from the Yarra Valley, Phillip Island, the Mornington Peninsula and Gippsland.
"Backgrounders and bullock buyers have cashed in and were standing at the rail, with agent support," Alex Scott & Staff agent David Setches said.
"People are looking at those lighter weights, throwing away the calculator and looking at dollars per head."
Mr Setches said purchasers were trying to buy cattle under the feedlot specifications.
That was especially true of those fortunate enough to have some feed or "a smidgen of hay" to get them through to August.
"I believe stores are going to be a bit scarcer than previous years, due to cattle being sold early," he said.
"I think the race is on to secure a few cattle and get them into the paddock before this job grows another leg."
He estimated cattle sold for about $100 dearer a head than a fortnight ago.
"Our big, mature heifers of 400 plus kg were again going for $3 to the processors - they were very, very strong," Mr Setches said.
Elders Pakenham agent Carlo Taranto said prices on the best bred cattle of the day, especially those with feedlot weights, were very strong.
"They were upwards of 20-30 cents a kilogram better in places, a massive lift for the market," Mr Taranto said.
Lighter cattle were also dearer but, with a couple of months of winter to go, he said concerns remained over feed supplies.
Among the top sellers was a draft from Hill Farm, Healesville, which sold a pen of a dozen 274kg steers by an Absolute Angus bull for $1020 or 372c/kg.
The Etheridge family of Yarrawalla, Gruyere, turned off August/September 2018-drop Lawson bull steers and heifers that were weaned at 12 weeks.
The first pen of 15 steers, 384kg, sold for $1310 or 341c/kg, while the second pen of 22, 355kg, sold for $1300 or 366c/kg.
A pen of 12, 308kg, Yarrawalla heifers sold for $940 or 305c/kg, while another draft of a dozen 265kg heifers sold for $870 or 328c/kg.
Tolara, Merricks North, sold a pen of 14 heifers weighing 390kg for $1200 or 307c/kg.
Greg Arnott, Fat Cow Farms, Ellaswood, sold a pen of 18 steers by Te Mania bulls, 417kg, for $1380 or 330c/kg.
A second pen of 20, 375kg steers sold for $1310 or 349c/kg, while the third pen of 10 weighing 363kg, sold for $1270 and made 349c/kg.
G Murray, Nar Nar Goon, sold 18 Angus steers by Banquet bulls, 482kg, for $1630 or 338c/kg.
Gippsun Valley Farm in Ranceby sold 12 Angus steers, 555kg, for $1830 or 329c/kg.
T&H MacLean from Shoreham sold a pen of 11, 558kg, 24-26-month-old Morago steers for $1815 or 325c/kg.
D Bristow of Yering sold 12 steers that tipped the scales at an average 483kg for $1610 or 333c/kg.