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.
"They're thinking 'I can spend $1000 as I've just got $2000 for a bullock'."
Mr Setches said purchasers were trying to buy cattle under the feedlot specifications.
"It's hard to compete on the feedlot weighted cattle," he said.
"But people have a bit of currency to get back in and purchase again."
That was especially true of those fortunate enough to have some feed, or "a smidgen of hay", to get them through 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.
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Mr Setches said sales were pushing into the $3.40-$3.60c/kg, with some pens even higher..
"The big improver was heifers, I don't think we had a heifer in our run that was under three dollars."
Even 230-270kg heifers were selling for around $3kg.
"Our big, mature heifers, of 400 plus kilograms, were again going for $3 to the processors - they were very, very strong."
Carlo Taranto, of Elders Pakenham, said prices on the best bred cattle of the day, especially those with feedlot weights, were very strong.
"They were upwards of 20-30cents/kilogram better, in places, a massive lift for the market," Mr Taranto said.
"All the feedlots were strong and wanting cattle, not even knowing where the floor is in the top of the market, because they all want the numbers.
"They are quoting anywhere from $3.40 or $3.50 a kilo."
Lighter cattle were also dearer, although there were still a couple of months of winter to go and concerns over feed supplies remained.
"The feedlotters are certainly going to keep this job going," he said.
Rodwells Pakenham agent Anthony Delaney said it was a lighter yarding, but quality was improved.
"All in all, the market was a lot better," Mr Delaney said.
"We have seen feeder type steers up to $3.50/kg, for 400-500kg stock, with all feedlots active on them - the big players, plus a couple of smaller local ones.
"It is pushing people who would normally buy at the 350-360kg back down to the 300kg mark, so we have seen a lift in that, as well."
Good pen lots of weaners would have been up to $150 dearer.
"But you need to have decent lines of pen lots to achieve that," he said.
"The ones and twos have sold a lot better, but are still a little bit lacklustre."
Top sellers included a draft from Hill Farm, Healesville, which sold a pen of 12, 274kg, steers, by an Absolute Angus bull, for $1020, or 372c/kg.
A second pen of 14, 236k, sold for $900, or 381c/kg.
Among the lines of cattle were those offered by the Etheridge family, Yarrawalla, Gruyere, who turned off August/September 2018 drop Lawson bull steers and heifers, which 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.
Prices for the lighter Yarrawalla cattle ranged from $1070 to $1130, or 350c/kg to 358c/kg.
The heifer portion also sold well.
"Tuck these heifers away, and you'll be very happy with them," Mr Setches told the gallery.
After the sale, Mr Setches said Yarrawalla had turned off early, due to seasonal conditions.
"To the credit of the vendor, they have brought the cattle up in that very forward, store condition," Mr Setches said.
"They struck a very strong store market, probably on the back of a rising fat market."
A pen of 12, 308kg, Yarrawalla heifers sold for $940, or 305c/kg, while another draft of 12, 265kg, sold for $870, or 328c/kg.
Tolara, Merricks North, sold a pen of eight heifers, 471kg, for $1400, or 297c/kg.
Tolara's second pen of 14, 390kg, sold for $1200, or 307c/kg.
Vendor Sharyn Prentice also sold a pen of 13 steers, 464kg, sired by a Banquet bull, for $1550, or 334c/kg.
She bought a pen of 12, 317kg, Beyond Trading, Ventnor, steers, for $1040.
Greg Arnott, Fat Cow Farms, Ellaswood, sold a pen of 18 steers, 417kg, by Te Mania bulls, for $1380, or 330c/kg.
A second pen of 20, 375kg, sold for $1310, or 349c/kg, while the third pen, of 10, 363kg, sold for $1270, also making 349c/kg.
Mr Arnott said he'd brought his first draft, and was running out of feed.
"The bigger ones weren't as dear as they were, at the beginning of the sale, but the younger ones came up in price," Mr Arnott said.
The cattle went to feedlots.
"I'm trying to make way for the cows and calves, we've had three years of dry conditions."
G Murray, Nar Nar Goon, sold 18 Angus steers, 482kg, by Banquet bulls, for $1630, or 338c/kg.
Gippsun Valley Farm, Ranceby, sold 12 Angus steers, 555kg, for $1830, or 329c/kg.
T&H MacLean, Shoreham, sold a pen of 11, 558kg, 24-26 month old Morago steers for $1815, or 325c/kg.
A second pen of 12, 524kg, steers, sired by a Banquet bull, sold for $1760, or 335c/kg.
D Bristow, Yering,, sold 12 steers, 483kg, for $1610, or 333c/kg.
Chivers Nominees, Tarrawarra, received $1430, or 344c/kg, for a pen of 15 steers, 415kg, while a slightly lighter pen of 20, 404kg, made $1405, or 347c/kg.
Tarro Lodge, Cape Cape Schanck, sold 24 Angus steers, 438kg. sired by a Lawson bull, aged 20-22 months, for $1550, or 353c/kg.
Yannathan Grazing, Yannathan, sold 13 steers, 450kg, for $1440, or 320c/kg.
G Joyce, Seaview, sold six Angus steers, 516kg, for $1530, or 296c/kg.
P&J and CR Robinson, Koo Wee Rup, sold 14 steers, 465kg, by Absolute Angus bulls out of Te Mania cows for $1540, or 326c/kg.
Heifer sales also included a pen of 20, 387kg, offered by J&H McKinlay, Catani, which sold for $1240, or 320c/kg.
AW and JN Willoughby, Bayles, sold 19 heifers, 312kg, for $960, or 307c/kg.
Tibooburra Angus, Hoddles Creek, sold six heifers, 396kg, for $1090, or 275c/kg.