Flowerdale grazier Mat Costa says he was prepared to accept $1000 a head for his nine and 10-month-old Angus steers at Yea last Friday, but was "pleasantly surprised" when the pen was knocked down for $1250.
The cattle were sought after by a number of volume buyers at the monthly store sale and were eventually bought by Albury, NSW, commission buyer Duncan Brown, who purchased 900 cattle for NSW and Qld buyers.
The recent and sharp rise in store cattle prices has many farmers on the edge of their seats about what could be around the corner, with handy summer rainfall adding confidence to Australia's cattle sector.
Mr Costa has farmed with his father, Paul, full-time for five years and trades as Spring Valley Rural.
He said his expectations were exceeded after a "flat" start to the year during the January weaner sales.
"We would have been happy for $1000 for the steers and $800, but the steers sold to $1250 and the heifers made $900," Mr Costa said.
"I think with the rains up north, we are only going to see prices increase."
The Costas run an agricultural contracting business, and 150 Angus breeders at their Flowerdale property, 25 kilometres south-west of Yea.
Mr Costa was sceptical of a rise in prices in the lead up to the sale until he sold a consignment of heifers with calves at foot in an online auction sale for $2700 in the lead up to the Yea market.
"There is plenty of feed on the ground, we've never seen it like this before, and that's what's driving these prices," he said.
"The green feed will cause issues with worms and parasites, but it is a cheap way to feed cattle."
Meat and livestock analyst and Global AgriTrends director Simon Quilty said the better beef prices in recent weeks were only a taste of things to come.
"My view is that the improved prices in today's market are due to a lack of livestock, more so than improved global demand," he said.
He said rainfall across northern and eastern Australia, and a lack of cattle supply in saleyards, was driving the prices for young steers and heifers.
"Global markets have been slow and sluggish, so the real drive has been that people are looking for cattle to put on grass," he said.
"The fear is as we progress and get back into a rebuild, which we'll know within a week or two, we're going to see supply tighten even more in Australia so that means prices will continue to rise."
Last year during the Gippsland Red Meat Conference, Mr Quilty predicted beef prices would soar in 2027 post the predicted El Nino event, but said prices were set to rally much sooner than initially expected due to the widespread rain.
"The dry conditions we were expecting into this year has changed the outlook and the expectation is we will swap back into a La Nina and as a result," he said.
"If we look at the Eastern Young Cattle Indicator, we saw the low in October last year, and today we are up 72 per cent and trading at 667 cents a kilogram.
"My expectation is we will see the EYCI get closer to 800c/kg by July or August this year, and then I'm expecting a small pull back in the final quarter of the year and Q1 in 2025 before it will really gather momentum. "
The last time the EYCI sat at 665c/kg was in April last year, while it last reached 800c/kg in January 2023.