Feedlot operators maintained their stronghold on Pakenham's fortnightly store sale on Thursday as draconian new measures were introduced to keep non-essential people out of the saleyard due to COVID-19.
Agents yarded about 3500 in a market most buyers described as firm on the previous sales.
Slight rises were reported in well-bred heifers as the steer portion maintained similar demand and price.
A handful of vendors and prospective buyers, such as restockers and smaller-scale operators, attended the Victorian Livestock Exchange prior to the sale before they were asked to leave under coronavirus guidelines.
Several local farmers and agents, who attempted to attend the sale after the lockout period, were refused entry and expressed their dissatisfaction to Stock & Land.
Only professional and commission buyers, and essential agents and staff, were granted entry to the facility.
Victorian Livestock Exchange acting chief executive Brian Paynter said the new restrictions were a result of Pakenham being named as one of the hotspots for community transmission in Victoria, but maintained the measures would be temporary and in place to protect the regular buying group.
Feedlots bought a bulk of the cattle on offer with several loads also purchased by northern Victoria and NSW operators for backgrounding and restocking.
On average, steers about 600 kilograms sold for 375-385 cents a kilogram while lighter steers under 300 kilograms made up to 450c/kg. Well-bred ready to join heifers sold for up to 400c/kg.
Feeder-weight steers ranged from 400-420c/kg.
Alex Scott & Staff Pakenham auctioneer Jason Fry the new restrictions had little effect on the sale result.
"Earlier on there were places were it looked a bit cheaper but as the sale went on it firmed up and was as good as it was a fortnight ago," Mr Fry said.
"While the store market plateaued, our fat market took another lift on Monday but we saw very small increases in price across the board on Thursday."
Nathan Gibbon Livestock director Nathan Gibbon said a bulk of his cattle were snapped by up feedlotters.
"I had some Angus steers by NQ Parke at Ellinbank, which weighed 450 kilos, make $2000 or 444 cents a kilogram ... They were purchased by a feedlot and sold to very strong demand," Mr Gibbon said.
"The quality of cattle is still very good and it's helped having a very good autumn in West Gippsland; there's still feed about and we haven't had much rain over the last three or four weeks."
A feature run of the sale included 230 mixed sex Black Baldy weaners, 9-10 months, by the Higgins family, Mountain View, Glenmaggie.
Their first pen of 17 steers, 372kg, sold for $1500 or 403c/kg while a second pen of 22 steers, 343kg, made $1480 or 431c/kg.
The Higgins family also sold 30 steers, 295kg, for $1225 or 415c/kg.
Black Forest Pastoral sold 26 steers, 298kg, for $1270 or 429c/kg while Aqua Drops sold 24 steers, 329kg, for $1450 or 440c/kg.
Elders agent Jamie Quinlan, who auctioned a portion of the cattle at Pakenham, described the market as "buoyant" with "a lot of feedlot-weighted cattle which sold to strong demand".
Sims Farms, Pine Grove, sold nine steers, 440kg, for $1820 or 413c/kg while Keska Management, Caldermeade, sold 15 steers, 478kg, for $2010 or 420c/kg.
Coraborra Cattle Farm, Neerim North, sold 16 steers, 345kg, for $1560 or 452c/kg while Gremona Park sold three pens of steers including a top pen of 22, 350kg, for $1510 or 431c/kg.
Nutrien Delaney Livestock & Property auctioneer Anthony Delaney said the top end of cattle were "off the pace a touch".
He said the sale lacked larger runs of older steers and featured cattle with slightly less condition.
"The top of the cattle were making 370-395c/kg whereas last sale it would have been five cents higher but once we got back onto the little cattle, the rates were just as strong," Mr Delaney said.
"Heifers sold to equal rates to the steers as they did last sale, especially with weight, and in some cases they sold better because we've seen heifers with actual fat cover as opposed to the steers with the same weight."
T and R Waterfall sold 20 steers, 292kg, for $1330 or 455c/kg.
P Mahoney, Colac, sold 20 steers, 510kg, for $2140 or 419c/kg.
C Vilcins, Nar Nar Goon, sold 20 steers, 605kg, for $2310 or 381c/kg.
J and A Vaughan, Shady Creek, sold 10 steers, 575kg, for $2260 or 393c/kg.
Scanlon Angus sold 15 steers, 463kg, for $2040 or 440c/kg
D and S Hickmott sold 13 steers, 476kg, for $1940 or 407c/kg.
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