Feedlot buyers hunted heavy cattle to $1400 a head at the 33rd annual Elders Blue Ribbon weaner sale at Yea on Friday.
Buyers celebrated the presentation of the 3345 head yarding and paid accordingly, with nearly 2000 Angus steers offered fetching from 310-346 cents a kilogram.
South Australian feedlot Princess Royal, together with Ravensworth feedlot from NSW, competed with South Gippsland agents for heavy lines of EU-accredited Angus steers.
Commission buyer Campbell Ross and Jack Dawson Exports were active throughout the sale.
Elders Korumburra livestock agent Rohan McRae bought several pens of steers early in the sale, as well as agents from Elders Pakenham and Elders Yea.
Elders Yea manager Jamie Quinlan said Elders agents "showed their force" and purchased an estimated 1400 head of cattle to return into the Elders network.
The sale's top price was held by Boxhill Pastoral Company, Yea, paid by Elders Pakenham for a pen of 20 Angus steers, which averaged 406 kilograms, or 346c/kg.
Owners Sue and Michael Spagnolo offered an impressive run of 132 Angus steers, which overall averaged 350kg, and 332c/kg.
The Spagnolos also sold 39 Angus heifers, which sold to $970 a head, or 289c/kg, to average 279c/kg.
The Angus weaners were all mid-February drop, Connamara Angus-blood, December-weaned, grass-fed, drenched and vaccinated, and accredited with Greenhams' Never Ever program.
The prices paid were more than 20c/kg up on Boxhill Pastoral cattle last year, despite cattle an estimated 20kg down on last year's weights.
Mrs Spagnolo said last year they received a sale peak of $1360, or 319c/kg, compared to 346c/kg this year.
Hot on their heels was a consistent offering of Angus steers offered by The Lily Pastoral, Yarck, who offered 216 steers, Tamaroo and Cluden Newry-blood, EU-accredited, to $1390, or 346c/kg, for a total average of 344c/kg.
The vendor also offered 49 Angus heifers which sold to $970, or 289c/kg, to average 344c/kg.
"Most vendors would leave here having had a very good sale, and buyers thought they have bought some very, very good cattle," Mr Quinlan said.
"It was an exceptional quality yarding of cattle, which topped out at 379c/kg, for Hereford steers calves, EU-accredited, for 335kg."
The general run of heavy non-EU steers was from 310-325c/kg, Mr Quinlan said, with the odd sale up to 335-340c/kg.
Euro cattle fetched 295-325c/kg, he said, with the top price paid the Hauser family for the third consecutive year.
It was anything but sibling rivalry for Gerard and Helen Hauser, and Peter and Val Hauser, who together have shared the top price and best presented Charolais pen for several years.
This year, the Tony Pianto Memorial Award was sashed to Peter and Val, Valley View, Limestone, for a pen of 21 Charolais steers, 388kg, which sold to $1360, or 351c/kg.
The neighbouring pen was Gerard and Helen Hauser, Limestone, who sold 23 Charolais steers to $1370, or 345c/kg.
The Hausers also sold a combined 33 Charolais heifers for an average of $1040.
Mr Quinlan said the Hereford cattle sold well, from 310-320c/kg, with a slight premium evident for heavier cattle.
Barry Purvis, Kenilworth, Yea, sold 46 Hereford steers to a top price of $1160, or 352c/kg, paid for 15 10 month-old steers, 330kg, for an overall average of 307c/kg.
In his female offering, 14 Hereford heifers sold to $940, or 269c/kg.
"The heifer market was extremely buoyant coming off some worrying time in the last few days for heifer prices," Mr Quinlan said.
"While there was an odd sale for 325c/kg, the main run sold from 280-300c/kg, and with the lighter heifers it was hard to buy a pen under $750, at 245-250kg."
Cameron Armstrong, together with his father Ross, Armstrong Evergreen, Yea, sold 101 Hereford steers to a top of 330c/kg, to average 306c/kg.
Mr Armstrong said their property Island Bend was dry, there was sufficient feed due to the optimal timing of spring rainfall.
This meant the weight in the Armstrong's cattle were up on average 20kg on last year, and attracted strong competition.
"We were worried coming in to the sale but we are rapt," he said.