Despite a very wet spring, there will still be plenty of weight and quality in the calves being prepared for next month's weaner sales at Casterton, according to local Nutrien agent Rick Smith.
Mr Smith said calf numbers would be similar to previous years with agents expecting to yard about 6300 steers and heifers across the three days of weaner sales at Casterton.
"Although the spring hasn't been favourable, the cows are mud fat and the calves are being weaned onto phalaris and ryegrass pastures up to their bellies," he said.
"There will be some very good runs of Angus and Hereford steers that are purposely bred for this fixture year-on-year.
"As always, buyers can be confident in the excellent quality of the calves."
He said the weights of the calves would also be very similar to last season.
"I'm expecting our lead drafts to be 370-380 kilograms, with the second run of calves between 330-340kg and then down to 270-280kg for the third draft," he said.
"Obviously we'll also have the odd pen that will tickle 400kg."
As far as prices go, Mr Smith is pretty confident the top lines of steers will be between 490-540 cents a kilogram, while 600c/kg could be achievable for the better-bred second and third drafts.
Quality lines of heifers, averaging about 320-330kg, could be anywhere from 480c/kg up to 540c/kg.
"I know the job has plateaued at the moment, but from what I'm reading, it is only in the short term," he said.
"I think once we get Christmas out of the way, the beef job will be in good shape moving forward.
"Across the board, I think most vendors with steers averaging 335-340kg will go close to $2000 a head, while lines around the 330kg mark could be at about $1980."
Neil Cooper, Elders, Casterton, agreed that the top end of the calves could still make more than $2000, but said it was difficult to know what the market would do.
"The lighter calves might make 570-580c/kg up to 600c/kg, but I think a lot of people might just buy to a price this year," he said.
"We need the northern blokes so hopefully the floodwaters in NSW have receded sufficiently.
"Buyers from the south-east of SA and Gippsland are here, year in and year out, but it just depends on what rates they have got to give us.
"I've been around a lot of the calves in the past couple of weeks, and they are looking quite fresh and good at the moment, they just need some sunshine on their backs."
Elders and Nutrien Ag Solutions will offer about 2800 Angus steers on Tuesday, January 10, and 1100 Hereford and Euro steers on Wednesday, January 11, while the heifer all-breeds sale is on Friday, January 13.
The weaner sales will start at 8.30am to allow buyers sufficient time to travel from Casterton to attend the Hamilton sales in the afternoon.
All of the sales will be interfaced with AuctionsPlus.