WEANER cattle prices are leaving a bit to be desired following Victoria’s annual weaner sales at Wodonga during the past two weeks.
Northern buyers were noticeably absent, wary of the prolonged dry spell, according to Landmark Albury agent Pat Kindellan.
“There were some Gippsland buyers active but they were mainly after the older, bullocky-type and butchers and southern buyers were also active,” he said.
During the two weeks lightweight steers weighing up to 280 kilograms averaged $436 a head or 172 cents a kilogram across both the Angus and mixed breed sales.
Steers weighing between 280kg to 330kg topped at 194c/kg but averaged 152c/kg while steers heavier than 330kg topped at 197c/kg and averaged 161c/kg.
Heifers were met with solid competition and fared far better than the average NSW market, selling for as much as 205c/kg for a run of Angus heifers but averaging out at 147c/kg for heifers up to 280kg across the multiple sales.
Those in the 280kg to 330kg weight range were back compared with the previous sale, selling up to 172c/kg and an average of $413/head.
Weaner heifers weighing more than 330kg averaged 147c/kg.
Mr Kindellan said the sale result was fair but not outstanding in the context of the current market.
Davidson Cameron Clydsdale and Company agent Warick Clydsdale, Scone, said the cattle market overall was tough and scarcity of water was not helping.
Mr Clydsdale said it was too early for weaner cattle in the northern districts, which tended to produce a spring calf to sell from March until June.
“We did have some Angus weaner steers at our last sale which weighed 270kg and made 180c/kg at the very top of the market,” he said.
“On a price per head basis, cattle down south look like they pay more but when you consider weaners are sold at about six to seven months old here rather than 470 kilogram nine, 10 or 11 month olds there, the weaner market here is still competitive on a cents a kilogram basis.”
The heifer job was still proving to be a deflated market according to Mr Clydsdale, who said most heifers were selling for an average of 110c/kg but good condition European-cross heifers were still making 160c/kg at the Scone sales.
Mr Clydsdale said British breeds were not faring as well as Euro-crosses because abattoirs were chasing extra yields.
Weaners at the Dubbo store cattle sale last Friday were cheaper; however, there was only a handful of the weaner offering weighing more than 280kg.
Steers averaged 125c/kg and heifers sold for a top of 138c/kg but averaged 107c/kg.
Coonamble stock and station agent David Thompson, Halcroft and Bennett, said the weaner market would not be in full force in
his area until March or April, but he expected a cheaper market if the dry spell continued.
“Most saleable cattle had already been sold last year and people are just moving on into their next avenue over the next couple of weeks which is breeders,” he said.
“Stock routes are dry of water and feed which makes it tougher on graziers to produce heavier weaners to sell.”