Volume buyers quoted Leongatha's store sale on Friday as the dearest market they had witnessed at the Victorian Livestock Exchange on record, as grown cattle sold beyond $3000 a head.
Agents yarded about 2500 cattle for the fortnightly store sale where light-weight weaner calves also fetched a premium of more than 700 cents a kilogram.
Feedlotters and backgrounds dominated the market as local agents indicated prices rose to another new level, a concept hard to swallow given the already strong prices for very typical and mixed winter yardings.
One volume buyer, who bought the dearest pen of grown cattle for $3090 to background, said it was the dearest sale for grown cattle he had seen to date at the South Gippsland complex.
The vendor of that pen, Ian Peterson of Yarram, sold a draft of 60 grown Angus steers, 2.5 years, including a top pen of 19 steers, 655 kilograms, for $3090 or 471c/kg.
Mr Peterson's second pen also topped the magic number, fetching $3040 for a pen of 19 steers, 635kg, or 478c/kg.
Another feature of the sale was a draft of 186 Angus cattle, eight and nine months, offered by the Hulls family of Narra Tinha, Leongatha.
The draft of steers and heifers, bred by their own bulls, sold to a top price of $1830 for a pen of 22 weighing 305kg, and making 600c/kg.
Their second pen of 22 steers, 295kg, made $1890 or 620c/kg while their lightest pen of 22 steers, 233kg, made $1680 or 721c/kg.
Nutrien South Gippsland Livestock manager Brian McCormack said the firm prices were a result of a steady lift in last week's prime cattle market.
"It would be another $100-$150 dearer in places, especially when you come down on calves at 320-360kg which made anywhere from $2000 to $2300," Mr McCormack said.
"Everyone is getting worried that come six weeks down the track when cattle start putting a bit of weight on, what will cattle be worth then?"
Mr McCormack said another driver for a rise in prices was feedlot demand on cattle below 400kg.
"Feeders stepped below that mark and were buying cattle 370-380kg ... and in six weeks' time our lead calves will be weighing that and better," Mr McCormack said.
"The big steers 480-550kg sold very well, but I reckon those better-end calves are what really stood up."
Meanwhile, it was a poignant moment for Phelan & Henderson & Co director Simon Henderson who auctioned his late father-in-law, Eric Ward of Timboon's, final draft of cattle.
Mr Ward died suddenly at his property in July after a day of fencing.
Mr Ward's daughter, Christine Henderson, said her father died enjoying what he did most, noting he had planned to retire from farming next year.
Mr Henderson said his father-in-law ran beef and dairy cattle from the age of 14 and at the peak had a herd of more than 1500 head, some of which sold to a top of $2560 at Leongatha on Friday.
Elders Leongatha and Korumburra livestock manager Rohan McRae said he thought the market was dearer compared to a fortnight ago.
"Whether you're looking at the heavy cattle 550-650kg really making 470c/kg plus or whether you're looking at well-bred weaners making 600-700c/kg, prices were really solid," Mr McRae said.
"Well-bred heifer weaners 300-400kg made 500c/kg plus and the market is still dominated by feedlots, but there was a bigger crowd of grazier restockers trying to get a gauge on the market.
"That tells us that they're ready to enter the market in some capacity and going into the spring, once the grass does grow we're not sure if numbers are going to increase because so many cattle have already sold."
R Cox, Bairnsdale, sold nine steers, 456kg, for $2490 or 546c/kg.
MG Harrison, Dumbalk, sold 15 steers, 450kg, for $2360 or 524c/kg.
Hoghton & Sharman, Boolarra, sold nine steers, 440kg, for $2260 or 513c/kg.
M & M Cattle Co, Bass, sold eight steers, 352kg, for $1950 or 553c/kg.
L & S Marriott, Tarwin, sold six steers, 311kg, for $1740 or 559c/kg.
KD Opray, Hedley, sold 15 steers, 437kg, for $2440 or 558c/kg.
P & S Kosta, Binginwarri, sold 14 steers, 501kg, for $2250 or 449c/kg.
R White, Fernbank, sold 10 steers, 285kg, for $1780 or 624c/kg.
Malabar Farm, Tarwin Lower, sold 20 steers, 280kg, for $1870 or 667c/kg.
P Joyce, Strzelecki, sold 16 steers, 595kg, for $2700 or 453c/kg.
P & A McDowell, Outtrim, sold 14 steers, 606kg, for $2790 or 460c/kg.
Melaleuca Pastoral Trust, Ruby, sold 15 steers, 581kg, for $2750 or 473c/kg and 14 steers, 534kg, for $2820 or 528c/kg.
BJ & LE Neuman, Perry Bridge, sold 18 steers, 375kg, for $2310 or 616c/kg.
Ajay Nominees sold 14 steers, 634kg, for $2970 or 468c/kg.
P & J Hodge, Strzelecki, sold 10 steers, 613kg, for $2910 or 474c/kg.
J & A Jefferies, Poowong, sold 15 steers, 597kg, for $2870 or 480c/kg.
Churchill & Sly, Kilkunda, sold 15 steers, 507kg, for $2630 or 518c/kg.
The Udderable Whites, Arawata, sold 10 Murray Grey heifers, 388kg, for $2090 or 538c/kg.
Belgrano sold 17 heifers, 268kg, for $1550 or 578c/kg.
K Shea, Leongatha, sold nine heifers, 492kg, for $2120 or 430c/kg.
T & V Greig sold 12 heifers, 377kg, for $2050 or 543c/kg.
M & M Standfield, Fish Creek, sold 10 heifers, 362kg, for $2060 or 569c/kg.
Randall & Weston, Welshpool, sold 13 heifers, 357kg, for $1880 or 526c/kg.
M & M Cattle Co, Bass, sold 18 heifers, 263kg, for $1580 or 600c/kg.
G & B Pocklington, Dumbalk, sold 11 heifers, 267kg, for $1620 or 606c/kg.
BC & PM Fleming, Willung, sold five heifers, 256kg, for $1570 or 613c/kg.
J & L Fiddelaers, Hillsley, Leongatha, sold 12 heifers, 284kg, for $1590 or 559c/kg.
E & R Bourke, French Island, sold 20 heifers, 242kg, for $1500 or 619c/kg.