Annual consignments of vendor-bred cattle were the highlight at Hamilton's special spring store sale in western Victoria on Wednesday.
Agents yarded 1314 cattle at the Hamilton Regional Livestock Exchange in a sale where local restockers, feedlotters and buyers from three states clashed for cattle.
Ideal seasonal conditions and an appetite to rebuild herds amid a supply shortage reinforced expectations as light-weight steer calves soared beyond 800 cents a kilogram.
LMB Livestock & Land auctioneer Bernie Grant said local restockers underpinned the weaner cattle, while feedlotters dominated on the heavy end of the grown steers and heifers.
"Most of the black steers were 550-580c/kg and your Herefords sold from 520c/kg up to 590c/kg," he said.
"Once you got onto your spring-drop steer calves, we had a good run of Angus cattle with weight, and your 400kg black steers were making up to around 600c/kg.
"Then the 300-350kg cattle made 700-750c/kg and once you got under 300kg, so from 230-270kg, steers made from 750c/kg up to 800c/kg."
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In comparison, from Stock & Land's archives, steers and heifers at Hamilton's 2013 spring store sale sold to a top of 186c/kg and 166c/kg, respectively.
Incredibly, an annual consignment of 78 Angus steers at that same sale eight years ago averaged $688 a head, or now just a measly 170c/kg.
Meanwhile, the absence of volume buyers from Gippsland had little effect on the result of Wednesday's sale, with a handful of buyers from South Australia and northern Victoria picking up the slack.
"A lot of cattle also stayed locally and went down into Warrnambool and Colac," Mr Grant said.
JM Ellis auctioneer Jack Hickey, Hamilton, said the market was comparative to other recent Victorian store sales in terms of the quality of cattle yarded and prices paid for breeders' consignments.
"Those annual drafts of cattle that come to Hamilton sold extraordinarily, particularly The Hummocks, Wannawong and Hillcrest cattle which sold really well," he said.
Significant support from Western District graziers underpinned the sale, Mr Hickey said, while buyers from NSW and the south-east of South Australia, along with north-east Victoria, helped bolster prices.
A feature draft of the sale was 190 spring 2020-drop Angus mixed-sex calves, 12-13 months, consigned by James and Jo Earl, The Hummocks, Cavendish.
The draft included 20 Angus steers, 326kg, which made 691c/kg or $2252 a head, 52 steers, 295kg, for 743c/kg or $2194 and 45 steers, 260kg, which fetched 789c/kg or $2052.
Twenty-six heifers, 282kg, made 742c/kg or $2096 and 42 heifers, 248kg, made 716c/kg or $1782.
Lanyons Stock & Station Agents director Warren Clark said the grown section of the sale was a lot heavier than he was initially expecting.
"We had February and March 2020-drop cattle over 500 kilos and I thought coming out of a cold winter that we wouldn't do that," he said.
"A lot of cattle were showing signs of winter and they hadn't coated off, but as soon as the sun comes out they'll bloom and likewise, our feed will burst."
Among the dearest heifer pens, Kevin McIntyre sold 15 Angus-cross heifers, 242kg, for 708c/kg or $1715.
Vendor Dale Robertson sold five Angus heifers, 223kg, for 758c/kg or $1690 to Ray White, Gunnedah, NSW.
The dearest steer weaner pen was for three Angus steers consigned by O Rentsch, 188kg, which made 852c/kg or $1604 and was bought by a buyer from Wagga Wagga, NSW.
The same buyer also bought 14 Black Baldy steers offered by Lyndon and Julie Hayes, Napier, Gazette, 248kg, for 778c/kg or $1934.
JE, JB & WL Bath sold the dearest pen of grown heifers with five Angus, 426kg, selling for 540c/kg or $2300.
D Nolte sold the highest grown steer pen with 10 Angus, 361kg, fetching 642c/kg or $2320 and purchased by Hopkins River Pastoral.
Nutrien SLM Hamilton managing director Sam Savin said there was "demand for anything, anything with four legs and a heartbeat".
"It was an unbelievable and incredible sale with an exceptional yarding of cattle," he said.
"The cattle that blew me out of the water were those between 350-420kg which made well in excess of 600c/kg and up to 670c/kg."
Among the feature drafts was about 100 mixed-sex August and September 2020-drop Angus consigned by Kelso Pastoral, Wannawong, Tarranlea.
Kelso Pastoral's draft included 27 Angus steers, 295kg, which went under the hammer for 606c/kg or $2399.
A second pen of 40 steers, bought by a north-east Victorian agent, 341kg, made 700c/kg or $2388.
Twenty Angus weaner heifers consigned by the same vendor, 273kg, made 742c/kg or $2096.
Hillcrest Partnership sold 59 Angus steers including a pen of 36, 358kg, for 646c/kg or $2316 and 23 steers, 324kg, for 678c/kg or $2202.
South Barnoolut sold 28 grown Hereford steers, 455kg, for 560c/kg or $2495 and 13 steers, 398kg, for 592c/kg or $2356.
Lowana Holdings sold 20 Angus steers, 415kg, for 596c/kg or $2476.
Lyndon and Julie Hayes, Gazette, trading as Napier, sold 10 Black Baldy steers, 289kg, for 702c/kg or $2028 and 15 steers, 248kg, for 778c/kg or $1934.
David Ball, DAB Ball, Gerrigerrup, sold 68 two-year-old and 12-month-old mixed-sex Angus cattle including 11 older cattle, 485kg, for 570c/kg or $2769.
Mr Ball also sold 10 Angus steers, 401kg, for 585kg or $2345 and 18 steers, 344kg, for 640c/kg or $2204.
He also sold 11 Angus heifers, 457kg, for 517c/kg or $2366 and 17 heifers, 353kg, for 598c/kg.
Innisfail Investments sold nine Charolais steers, 464kg, for 558c/kg or $2591 and seven Limousin steers, 363kg, for 620c/kg or $2545.
Geoffrey A Sherman sold 11 Hereford steers, 272kg, for 722c/kg or $1965 and 14 steers, 240kg, for 752c/kg or $1807.
RS Rundell & Sons sold nine Hereford steers, 294kg, for 618c/kg or $2650.
Glynbrae Pastoral, Penshurst, sold 10 Angus steers, 590kg, for 482c/kg or $2846.
A W & T Johnson sold 23 steers, 350kg, for 668c/kg or $2340 and 31 steers, 314kg, for 722c/kg.
J Barber sold 17 Angus steers, 273kg, for 743c/kg or $2034.