SLAUGHTER prices for older females have come off the boil in the past week by as much as 20 to 30 cents a kilogram and are now either level-pegging or less than restocker values. That’s allowed restockers to trade in their older cows and return home with younger first- or second-calf cows with calves at foot and possibly pregnancy tested in calf as a bonus three-in-one unit if they can find them.
Older cows are more common in the market than the otherwise scarce, younger breeding females, according to Lindsay Fryer of McCarron Cullinane, Orange, who explained that breeders who had opted to sell were receiving good money for first- and second-calf cows with calves, but these sellers were the exception, with most deciding to hold onto their cows.
“They are selling out their older cows and using heifers as their replacements,” he said.
“Breeders are taking advantage of getting some high prices for their old cows and keeping their young ones, that’s why younger cows are making the dollars.”
At Carcoar store cattle sale last Friday, cows with calves sold from $1700 to $3100, and Mr Fryer said if they were black cattle, they were fetching $2000 or more.
Cow values had reached $2.90 a kilogram in the prime sales, but pulled back in the past week from that level to $2.50/kg to $2.60/kg, said Kevin Miller Lennon Whitty co-principal, Luke Whitty, Forbes.
“Cows today are still making from $2.20/kg to $2.60/kg, so sellers are still getting $1300 to $1800 back and only have to put another $600 to $800 on to that for a cow with calf replacement,” he said.
“And the calf will be worth close to $1000 as it gets to 10 months of age.”
Mr Fryer believes cows are insurance.
“If you buy a steer it’s a one way ticket,” he said. “You’ve got to fatten him, then sell him on the market or to a feedlot, whereas if the market goes sideways, a cow can be kept for breeding, eventually giving you a return.”
While cow prices had come off the boil, prices remained at high levels, but had dropped enough to put them in reach of restockers as a good longer-term investment option. This also made them a good option to make use of abundant feed this spring.
Binnaway district and Dubbo agent with Christie and Hood, Bill Tatt, said there had been minimal numbers of females, especially cows with calves, yarded at store sales in recent months.
“There were none at a recent Binnaway store sale and only handfuls at Dubbo,” he said.
His thoughts were many producers had looked at the cost of procuring a young breeder and found it quite costly, so were calving out their old cow just one more time.
Good eye for value and quality an asset
JIM Pearce has always had a good eye for bargains, especially cows with calves or pregnancy-tested-in-calf heifers and cows at store sales at Coonamble or Dubbo.
He’d take them home to “Mountain View”, Gilgandra, and grow out the calves for resale at a later date. But with the price of females, whether heifers, joined or unjoined, or older cows joined or with calves, he was thinking hard on what returns he could get at a recent Dubbo store cattle sale when units were selling upwards of $2475.
Last week, cow and calf units at Carcoar’s store sale made up to $3100. Christie and Hood agent Bill Tatt, Dubbo, said such prices were encouraging breeders to hold onto their older cows for one more calf.
“Up until recently cows were worth more money slaughtered, however, I think the next Dubbo store sale will have a fair few more cattle and this may level the playing field a little, especially as fat values have slipped back some for cows.”
Manilla agent Patrick Purtle, of Purtle Plevey Agencies, who sells through Tamworth yards, said from a restocker dynamic, anything that’s young with quality and of a defined age and joining in keeping where people want to be, are selling over and above the prime market rates.
“People are still prepared to pay for something that’s young and has a future,” he said.
“So they are getting out of their old cow for something like $2000.
“Therefore paying around $2500 for a quality young breeder is not out of the question.”