Money muddies weaner sale options

Take the money now, or hold? - that's the big question

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HAPPY: Vendor who always sells in the November Ballarat sale, Mick and Dawn Ernest, Cherry Mount, Streatham, offered their draft of weaners and weren't disappointed with pens including 23 steers, 303kg, sold for $1700, or 561c/kg.

HAPPY: Vendor who always sells in the November Ballarat sale, Mick and Dawn Ernest, Cherry Mount, Streatham, offered their draft of weaners and weren't disappointed with pens including 23 steers, 303kg, sold for $1700, or 561c/kg.

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While some weaners are being sold early due to current price levels, most will be held for the new year weaner sales.

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The classic conundrum - take the money now, or hold for the new year - is at play across south-east Australia as store prices remain high.

The rush to capture the current high prices available is great for now, but some agents say that it could impact weaner sale numbers in the new year.

Last week Mortlake and Ballarat yarded nearly 9500 store cattle with a sprinkling of weaner calves many of which would normally be destined for sale in January and February.

While numbers for the new year sales might be back slightly, the quality and weight of the calves will be excellent after a good season in most parts.

At Ballarat HF Richardson agent Bernie Nevins said vendors were bringing forward lines of weaner cattle which would normally go to the February sales.

"People are grabbing the money. In this job, nothing lasts forever, but it has at the moment, so who knows what's going to happen in February?" he said.

"But I dare say it's going to be very strong, still."

Ballarat vendors included Phillip and Jacinta Leech, Carisbrook, who forwarded 88 steers and heifers.

Mr Leech said they normally took off the tops of the calves for this sale, but the money on offer was too good to miss and they sent a much deeper cut, but also retaining some for February sale.

They received a top of $1870 for their weaners, and $1790, or 522 cents a kilogram, for a pen of 33 Lawson-blood steers, 324kg. A light pen of steers, 279kg, made around 600c/kg.

"The prices were "unreal," Mr Leech said.

The Leech's agent, John Wagstaff, Nutrien Livestock, Ballarat, said they had done a great job on the calves.

He said the consignment attracted competition from a number of repeat buyers.

Another vendor who always sells in the November Ballarat sale, Mick and Dawn Ernest, Cherry Mount, Streatham, offered their draft of weaners and weren't disappointed.

A pen of 23 steers from the consignment, 303kg, sold for $1700, or 561c/kg.

At Mortlake associated agents president Matt Baxter, said the centre was looking at yarding either side of 3000 weaners at its January weaner sale.

"Final numbers will depend on how many are sold in the next month's store sale," he said.

He said the prices being paid now for young calves was very attractive, but many would still hold them after a once-in-a-life-time season.

In the traditional weaner sales centre of Hamilton there appears to be no appetite for selling weaners early.

Elders branch manager David Whyte, Hamilton, said their clients were hanging on to the weaners for the annual January sales.

Producers had plenty of feed and had booked their cattle in for those sales with high expectations for prices.

In Gippsland also the lure of high prices was not impacting plans for weaner sales.

Nutrien Delaney Livestock & Property's Anthony Delaney, said a lot of calves in the region needed more time to recover from a tough winter and spring period.

"We just need a bit more time for the calves as well as the fat cattle - that aren't just ready yet," he said.

He said that at this stage, all the traditional lines of weaners would be coming in for their sale in January..

In the north, cattle from parts of NSW and Queensland are hitting the market ahead of schedule, the prices too tempting for producers to be sitting on their hands.

Brian Unthank Wodonga agent Jim Hiscock said he expected there to be less than normal numbers for their January weaner sales with producers already jumping the gun due to the good season and prices.

"I have sold steers which would normally have been held for the January sales, but they were heavy enough and with good current prices vendors decided to sell," Mr Hiscock said.

He said he still expected to have good drafts of well-bred weaners for sale in January "with very good weights".

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