Several vendor-bred spring-drop drafts headlined Bairnsdale's massive fortnightly store sale on Friday.
East Gippsland agents yarded 2800 cattle in a yarding where backgrounders picked up the slack as local restockers took a backseat due to drying conditions across eastern Victoria.
Prices for spring-drop calves well and truly passed 600 cents a kilogram, while on a price per head basis eight-to-nine-month-old calves went under the hammer for more than $2000 a head.
The feature lines included Robin and Mack Stagg of Tambo Crossing who sold 227 Angus calves, eight-10 months, including a 150 steers with the top pen of 26, 382 kilograms, making $1950 or 510c/kg.
The second pen of steers, 361kg, made $1870 or 518 while a lighter pen of 27 steers, 280kg, made $1690 or 603c/kg.
The Staggs also sold two pens of heifers including a pen of 26, 298kg, for $1500 or 503c/kg.
Shaun and Maria Beasley, Emu Park, Lindenow South, also featured in the first line of the sale, offering 140 Angus steers, eight months, with the top pen of 25 steers making $1770 or 511c/kg.
The Beasley's second pen of 25 steers, 333kg, made $1770 or 531c/kg while their lightest pen, 290kg, made $1690 or 582c/kg.
The Sheridan family of Bengworden and Wuk Wuk also offered a feature line of 130 Angus steers, seven-eight months, with their top pen of 23 steers, 343kg, making $1800 or 524c/kg.
Their second pen of 25 steers, 313kg, made $1770 or 565c/kg while their lightest pen of 28 steers, 263kg, made $1600 or 608c/kg.
Selling agent Nutrien Bairnsdale livestock manager Brad Obst said the drafts attracted the attention they deserved.
"There was very strong interest on the EU cattle from a major backgrounder to background them as EU feeders," Mr Obst said.
"Then we had a lot of return buyers on all the cattle and that really highlights that people know the cattle and have had results from the calves over many years.
"I thought the smaller, lighter end of the calves sold to extreme demand but those prices took nothing away from the heavier end of the cattle either."
The fourth feature line of the sale was 184 Angus and Angus/Hereford-cross mixed-sex calves from far East Gippsland, consigned by Kelvin and Wendy Ingram, Bonang.
The Ingram's top pen of 24 calves, eight-nine months, 388kg, made $2100 or 541c/kg, the second pen of 23 steers, 363kg, made $1870 or 515c/kg while the lightest pen of 15 steers, 338kg, made $1730 or 511c/kg.
The couple also sold a pen of 12-month-old steers, 451kg, for $2080 or 461c/kg, along with a top pen of 17 heifers, 311kg, for $1810 or 581c/kg.
Bill Wyndham & Co livestock manager Colin Jones said the Ingram's calves were a "delight to handle" and went mainly to repeat South Gippsland buyers.
"It helps when you have an outstanding yarding of cattle and we've been fortunate this year with the season that the breeding of the cattle is showing up," Mr Jones said.
"We had a few backgrounders here today and we did notice restocker competition was not as prominent as it has been and that's due to the area needing a good rainfall."
Another feature of the sale was three consecutive pens of steer calves offered by K & J Alexander which sold to 654c/kg.
Their first pen of 20 steers, 284kg, made $1670 or 588c/kg, their second pen of 20, 268kg, made $1690 or 630c/kg while the third pen of 19 steers, 252kg, made $1650 or 654c/kg.
However, it was Lofty Chester, Combienbar, who sold the dearest pen of light calves with 16 steers, 237kg, making $1600 or 675c/kg.
Elders Bairnsdale livestock manager Morgan Davies said it was a "good, solid sale".
"The little bit of northern competition we had helped subside the drying season we're having here in East Gippsland," Mr Davies said.
"We had a few northern and South Australian backgrounders operating and then those bigger black steers went to feedlot competition which is something we haven't seen in recent sales.
"Normally those cattle would go towards South Gippsland but the feedlot orders were very strong."
Mr Davies said many heavier heifers were bought to return and join in the paddock while smaller heifers were snapped up by backgrounders.
O Waller sold eight steers, 556kg, made $2240 or 402c/kg.
I & M Brownrigg sold nine steers, 496kg, for $2280 or 459c/kg.
T Schauble sold 16 steers, 432kg, for $2200 or 509c/kg.
Creighton Grange Angus Partnership sold 22 steers, 413kg, for $2160 or 523c/kg.
DA & J Cameron sold 25 steers, 353kg, for $1890 or 535c/kg.
CJ Treasure sold 24 Black Baldy steers, 325kg, for $1680 or 516c/kg and 20 Hereford steers, 355kg, for $1690 or476c/kg.
GP & JM Connley sold 23 steers, 253kg, for $1590 or 628c/kg.
Livingstone Partnership sold 14 heifers, 342kg, for $1840 or 538c/kg.
DA & J Cameron sold 20 heifers, 336kg, for $1890 or 562c/kg.
Wingan Valley Station sold 20 heifers, 361kg, for $1720 or 476c/kg.
Coonmoor Pastoral sold 25 heifers, 329kg, for $1740 or 528c/kg.
K & T Woodgate sold 18 heifers, 274kg, for $1340 or 489c/kg.
CJ Treasure sold 11 heifers, 295kg, for $1480 or 501c/kg.