PRICES for coloured lightweight heifers were back nearly a dollar a kilogram on the previous month at the Naracoorte combined agents' monthly store cattle sale on Thursday - and even the other steer and heifer categories also had big falls.
This was on trend with other recent sales with buyer confidence being knocked for six with the threat of a foot and mouth disease outbreak in Australia.
The season is also hanging in the balance for many in the Mid South East with Naracoorte close to its lowest rainfall record ever for July and a dry June too.
Top price honours of $2660 went to the sale's first pen- seven July 2020 drop Angus steers from JWR&TA Elton, Rendelsham.
The 557 kilogram steers were snapped up by J&F Australia who also bought the next two pens from the same vendor- eight 496kg for $2540 and 10 478kg made $2490.
Thirteen Black Simmental-Angus steers from M&H Davidson, Lucindale, made $2350. The September/October 2020 drops were 461kg sold to TFI.
They also bought 18 421kg Angus for $2270 from R&S Tregoweth, Lucindale and two pens of April/May 2021 drop, Clover Ridge blood Angus from SM&WJ Johnson, Woolumbool.
The Johnsons' 17 steers weighing 422kg made $2250, while another five weighing 409kg made $2120.
Charles Ashby & Co, Sheffield, Coonalpyn, was one of the sale's volume vendors with 84 Angus and Angus crosses, 10-11 months of age.
Sheffield's heaviest pen of 19 weighing 399kg made $2140.
JB&HA Kidman, Penola, received $5.30/kg for seven April/May 2021 drops weighing 349.2kg. This equated to $1851.
The only heifers to crack the $2000 mark were five black baldies, 462kg from CJI&PY Ker, Naracoorte, which made $2125.
They sold to Creek Livestock, Mount Gambier.
Creek Livestock also bought 13 August/September 2021 drop Black Simmental-Angus from McWimay Pty Ltd for $1970. They were 408kg.
Oakley Farms, Pinnaroo, received $1860 for five 417kg Angus which were only November 2021 drops.
Kangaringa Farms, Keith, sold two well-bred pens of EU accredited yearling Angus heifers.
The 334kg pen of 13 made $1650 while the 29 head weighing 300kg made $1600.
Elders auctioneer Ronnie Dix said prices were back $400-$600 on most cattle on the previous month's sale but he said it was slightly better than he expected.
"We got out of jail, no one actual knows what we are in for but it was good to see with the reduced rates some traders who had been out of the market stepping back in," he said.
"The world still has to eat and we are coming into our spring where we are going to put the most weight on cattle we ever have."
Mr Dix said heavier heifers (320kg plus) held up well making $5.20-$5.40/kg- similar to steers- but dropped right back at lighter weights to 4.80/kg.
Backgrounders had a strong preference for short-term fattening opportunities.
"A 250kg animal you get that nowhere by Christmas unless you have got a substantial amount of feed," he said.
"The feeder job dropped a dollar (a kilogram) overnight essentially so they want a 500kg animal where they could feed it or kill it rather than 400kg when it is only ever a feeder."
Nutrien Naracoorte senior account manager Brendan Fitzgerald said the price drop was economy driven with foot and mouth disease fears and rising cost of inputs and inflation, as well as season driven.
"It was not quite as bad as I thought it would be, there seemed to be a floor that buyers even with the current events were prepared to say 'this seems reasonable to be paying these prices," he said.
"There are a lot of wintery cattle around so anything that is good condition buyers are paying a premium for."
Mr Fitzgerald agreed the biggest price falls were in the light weight heifers but said many other pens could have been 50c/kg to 70c/kg cheaper than the June store sale.
Giving a comparison he said he had filled an order for about 80 340-400kg feeder steers and heifers in each of the past three Naracoorte store sales.
Two months ago he averaged $5.54/kg for 381kg average. Last month they were $5.24/kg with the only difference being a few more heifers and last week it was $4.84/kg.
He was hopeful prices would hold around current levels but was watching the Indonesia situation closely.
"A lot of people sold earlier because the prices for feeders were so there is not a lot of cattle that have already been sold but those cattle bought a few months ago even with weight gain they may be behind what they paid for them," he said.
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