Beef prices continued to climb at Leongatha's store sale on Friday in what agents described as one of the dearest sales at the Victorian Livestock Exchange to date.
Annual drafts of vendor-bred calves and a quiet selling week on the Victorian store cattle sale calendar combined to make the perfect conditions for a bumper fortnightly market.
More than half-a-dozen feedlot operators were active throughout the 4700-head sale, while agents from other regions, including the north, were active sourcing cattle for northern Victoria and clients in NSW.
Local restockers struggled to compete with the hefty prices and were forced to alter their desired weights, agents said.
Buyers and agents generally agreed the sale was firm, and in some places dearer, compared to the last feature sale a month ago on March 26.
Nutrien Leongatha livestock manager Brian McCormack said the sale was 10-20 cents a kilogram dearer than what he anticipated before the start of the market.
"It was the same for the feeder steers and down onto the weaner calves," Mr McCormack said.
"Those cattle are getting harder to find, especially feeder-weight cattle, so some buyers did go home empty-handed but the quality of the cattle was probably as good a line-up, if not better than a month ago."
A feature of the sale was 190 Angus and Black Baldy steer calves consigned by Elm Valley, Tarwin Lower, which sold to $1800 a head or 637c/kg.
Elm Valley's first pen of 25 Angus calves, 319kg, made $1800 or 564c/kg, its second pen of 32 calves, 302kg, made $1800 or 596c/kg and its third pen of 25 steers, 296kg, made $1790 or 604c/kg.
Its lightest pen of 30 steers, 270kg, made $1720 or 637c/kg.
"It was the best prices ever paid for the Elm Valley calves and that's something many vendors are experiencing this year," Mr McCormack said.
Another feature of the sale was 380 Angus, Hereford and Angus/Hereford-cross steers and heifers consigned by John and Nola Ross, Omeo Station, trading as CJ Pendergast.
The first pen of 26 steers, 407kg, made $2050 or 503c/kg, the second pen of 24 steers, 392kg, made $2040 or 520c/kg and the third pen of 24, 352kg, made $1900 or 539c/kg.
Omeo Station also sold 29 Angus steers, 323kg, for $1830 or 566c/kg and 25, 318kg, for $1780 or 559c/kg.
Elders Leongatha and Korumburra livestock manager Rohan McRae said the feature line was mostly purchased by repeat buyers.
"They sold exceptionally well," Mr McRae said.
In the heifer section, Omeo Station sold 22 heifers, 408kg, for $1850 or 453c/kg, 21 heifers, 345kg, for $1660 or 431c/kg and 24 heifers, 307kg, for $1680 or 547c/kg.
"The heifers attracted a mix of feedlot and breeder competition which was pleasing," Mr McRae said.
At the lighter end of the draft, Omeo Station sold 23 Angus steers, 242kg, for $1540 or 636c/kg.
Phelan & Henderson & Co director Simon Henderson said the additional number of major feedlot buyers underpinned the sale.
"These big yardings come about when our sales don't clash with other sales in the state and we're noticing the bigger sales are bringing the better cattle and bigger prices," Mr Henderson said.
"What was interesting was the well-bred, joinable heifers ready to go with the bull for autumn calving in some cases were making as much as their steer brothers and more on a cents a kilogram basis."
Alex Scott & Staff Leongatha auctioneer Dane Perczyk said he was pleased with the strength of the sale from start to finish.
"Feeder cattle were very strong and graziers didn't get much of a look in on them," Mr Perczyk said.
T & J Waters, Milford, sold a pen of Limousin-cross heifers, 392kg, 18 months, for $2000 or 510c/kg.
White Pastures sold a draft of 70 heavy cattle including its first pen of 13 Angus steers, 589kg, for $2140 or 409c/kg.
Its second pen of 13 steers, 577kg, made $2440 or 422c/kg, a third pen of 19, 566kg, sold for $2440 or 431c/kg and a fourth pen of grown steers, 559kg, made $2430 or 434c/kg.
Gem-Brae Ag, Nyora, consigned 200 cattle to the sale with its top pen of 20 grown steers, 560kg, making $2400 or 428c/kg, while a second pen, 527kg, was bought by the same buyer for the same price at 455c/kg.
In the cow and calf section, D & R Scott, Stony Creek, sold 10 Speckle Park cows with calves at foot for $4000.
How the cattle sold
B Woodward sold 13 Angus steers, 590kg, for $2360 or 400c/kg and 22 steers, 580kg, for $2420 or 417c/kg.
V & D Albanese sold 22 Angus steers, 522kg, for $2400 or 459c/kg.
Wongungarra Unit Trust, Crooked River, sold 17 Hereford steers, 390kg, for $1780 or 456c/kg.
Manuka Ridge sold 22 Angus steers, 255kg, for $1560 or 611c/kg.
O'Loughlin Farms sold 19 Angus steers, 296kg, for $1690 or 570c/kg.
Faulkner Lees, Mardan, sold 16 Angus heifers, 422kg, for $2040 or 483c/kg.
R & M Vernon, Mirboo, sold 18 Angus heifers, 435kg, for $1980 or 455c/kg.
CW Littlejohn sold 16 Angus heifers, 323kg, for $1550 or 479c/kg.
E Bourke sold 19 Angus heifers, 300kg, for $1460 or 487c/kg.