Seasonal conditions in parts of Victoria have seen store cattle sale numbers continue to lift, with Leongatha seeing another near-record yarding of 5300 head.
Agents at most yards reported as winter approached, producers were opting not to take cattle through until spring
Strong competition from feedlots was also driving turnoff.
Mecardo analyst Angus Brown said the March saw the highest number of cattle on feed since December 2109, which was close to the end of the drought.
"Compared to the December quarter, cattle on feed were up 9.5 per cent and a huge 26pc on March 2021," Mr Brown said.
"Queensland is the largest lot feeding state, and it drove numbers to the record.
"The increase on last year in Queensland was 38pc, and we might be seeing some impact from flood related transport and processing delays in the numbers."
In the March quarter, record price drew record numbers of cattle into feedlots, he said.
"Placements in the March quarter were up 11pc on December, and 37pc on March 21."
Thomas Elder Markets analyst Matt Dalgleish said so far this season east coast yarding levels were running nearly 30 per cent under the five-year trend.
"It is a similar story of tight supply for weekly slaughter volumes," Mr Dalgleish said.
"Meat & Livestock Australia reported east coast cattle slaughter has spent nearly all of the 2022 season under the lower end of the normal range in weekly slaughter
"Compared to the five-year average pattern for slaughter the current trend for 2022 has been running 33pc below the average pattern.
Elders Korumbura and Leongatha manager Rohan McRae said a dry late summer and early autumn was one of the reasons behind another large yarding at Koonwarra.
Mr McRae said cattle would not perform unless they went onto feed and feedlots were looking for supply, through June into August.
"Whether they are processors, or feedlotters, or both, they are trying to buy cattle now and put them on feed," he said.
"We keep thinking cattle are going to run out, but let's see what shows up in a fortnight.
"I think prices are just encouraging cattle forward, winter is approaching and prices are good.
"The one thing that will stop it is a cheaper sale
"But there is nothing that is happening that is going to stop it - the cattle will keep coming forward, on this result."
Nutrien Ag Solutions auctioneer Brian McCormack prices were a little easier at Leongatha, due to the large number of stock offered.
"It was probably just off the pace, a little bit," Mr MCormack said.
"We are sourcing cattle from a bigger area - a lot of those cattle that high 500-low 600 kilogram range could quite easily go into a prime market, but they are coming in here.
"They have been making a little bit more here, due to feeder competition, once again, at that top end.
"If you put some of those cattle in the prime pens, and they get high 400-500c/kg, you put them in the store pens they hit 500c/kg or a little bit better.'
At Warrnambool, J&J Kelly Stock Agency auctioneer Jack Kelly said he was anticipating conditions in the south-west to be drier, than the rest of Australia.
"It's a bit like Tasmania right now and I think we're going to sort of go into a maybe a little bit warmer winter than we used to in Warrnambool," Mr Kelly said.
"The main thing is we get that rain towards the end of August through to September and October, which they are saying we'll get.
"We've still got plenty of hay and still got plenty of silage but the people here are starting to use it."
Brian Unthank Rural auctioneer Michael Unthank, Wodonga, said the market was picking up pace, as winter approached.
"I suppose with the background of cattle and rain in the north, we are seeing good potential," Mr Unthank said.
Elders Kyneton auctioneer Dean Coxon said the sale saw a large run of spring-drop weaners, which attracted commission buyers and others from Gippsland and Ballarat.
"We saw a big spike in numbers, I think producers are at a crossroads, where they accept the price or take the cattle through winter," Mr Coxon said.
"If they are going to get between 600-700 cents a kilogram for these spring-drop calves, they are not going to take them through winter."
Elders Pakenham auctioneer Carlo Taranto said in the next month to six weeks there would still be plenty of stock around.
"I think we will have a lull after that, but it will fire up again in the spring," Mr Taranto said.
Alex Scott & Staff auctioneer David Setches agreed there were some lighter calves now being sold, with producers opting not to take them through winter.
Delaney Livestock and Property auctioneer Anthony Delaney there had been 'a bit of a price correction' on the lighter, spring-drop calves, which made up the bulk of the Pakenham yarding.
He agreed feedlots were again very active, securing a late-winter and early spring supply.
Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.