Store cattle prices just keep climbing on the back of that old friend, grass, as well as a firing prime cattle market where buyers are clamoring for their share..
Good seasonal conditions have seen cattle generally in forward condition and saleable in the prime pens, resulting in producers cashing in but being forced to lift their sights when buying back in.
Store sales across the state have recorded prices well in excess of the same time last year as good seasonal conditions, northern demand and competition among processors and feedlotters push prices higher.
Buyers have had to be patient to find their requirements, but in the end have had to meet the market on the day.
Local producers have also added weight to the demand as the smaller buyers operated through agents or commission buyers under coronavirus rules.
On a national basis, weights played a role with AuctionsPlus reporting steers weighing 200 to 280kg selling from 405 to 544c/kg to average 478c/kg, or down 17c/kg on the previous week. However steers 280 to 330kg sold from 361c/kg to 499c/kg, averaging 444c/kg or 32c/kg higher. Victorian buyers purchased around 1200 cattle while NSW and Queensland accounted for close to 10,400 of the 19,000 offered.
At the annual Yea spring-drop weaner sale a yarding of mainly 8 to 10-month-old calves sold at prices double that of the equivalent sale in 2019. The complete yarding of mixed sex calves averaged 460c/kg.
Recent store sales in Gippsland have seen large yardings and prices generally firm to dearer with strong local demand met with strong competition from feedlotters and northern restockers.
At the Western Victorian Livestock Exchange, Mortlake, the yarding averaged 401 cents a kilogram while the equivalent sale in 2019 the yarding averaged 277c/kg on a high of 338c/kg.
Open auction steers at Mortlake sold from $930 to $1300 a head and as high as 591c/kg while heifers made $750 to $1200, or 393-535c/kg.
Southern Grampians Livestock, livestock agent, Heath Templeton, Hamilton, put together a draft of 290 weaner steers at Yea's spring weaner sale.
He said the draft for two clients averaged 507c/kg on an average weight of 235kg or $1187 average a head.
He said the weights were "perfect" for the purpose - "I don't want them too heavy".
The cattle were generally 20-30kg heavier than the previous year and "usually cattle that are heavier at this time will keep going through".
The consignment would be backgrounded for feedlotting.
"They will be all gone by Christmas. It's a bit of an unknown what the feedlot job will be in October, November, December," he said.
He said that given that a lot of the spring-drop calves in Victoria that would normally be grown out to feedlot weights had already been sold into northern areas, the "job should still be pretty strong".
JJ Kelly Pty Ltd, principal Jack Kelly, Warrnambool, said a "pretty good" summer and nice early break to this season meant cattle were "very forward" and producers were consigning them for sale.
He said the cattle heading to the prime sale pens had to be replaced and that's where much of the local demand for store cattle was coming from.
Mr Kelly said Warrnambool agents had yarded 1350 prime cattle at its latest sale - "which is a lot for this time of year".
"People are selling because cattle are very forward in condition and the market has really picked up. Not only for steers and vealers but the cow and bull job as well," he said.
While it was unusual for people to be selling at this time of year, people had cattle "up and going" to sell and then had to buy back, he said.
Mr Kelly said dairy farmers who had carried empty cows through to now were quitting those cows at the current strong prices to look after their freshly calved cows.