Early summer rain won’t help many of the producers who are preparing calves for the annual southern weaner sales in the New Year.
A flat spring across much of Victoria and southern NSW means weaned calves are being predominantly supplementary fed to get them to sale weights.
It could, however, still have some influence on northern buying demand, a crucial market for sales right across Victoria from Hamilton to Wodonga.
January 2018 prices sat at the 330 cents a kilogram mark for medium weight steers which was a substantial dip from the previous year’s record highs of 400c/kg and above for some categories.
However 2018 prices, where the opening week of Wodonga offerings averaged 328c/kg (for 320-400kg steers), and Hamilton’s first sales averaged 326c/kg (for an average 356kg weight), were said by many to be more sustainable for both sides of the fence.
The dry had already been biting hard in parts of the country in January this year, which diminished slightly the northern restocker demand, and seasonally things have got worse in many regions since then.
But storms have been flying thick and fast in some parts of inland NSW in recent weeks raising hopes of a widespread break.
But Rabobank animal protein senior analyst, Angus Gidley-Baird, said in his report the price for younger cattle will continue to be “heavily dictated by the season”.
“Although prices for cattle are currently at sustainable levels, young cattle will be exposed to some downside pressures over the coming months if seasons do not improve,” Mr Gidley-Baird said.
“The eastern young cattle indicator (EYCI) jumped to 541c/kg in late October – the highest it had been in seven months. It subsequently fell back to 518c/kg on November 8.”
“With Victorian cattle prices, there seems to be a bit of an uptick in the 350kg weight range when it rains, but the lighter cattle are less responsive – buyers may not be willing to go in and buy in young cattle to hold for a long time, but are okay with the heavier stuff with the view of trading them not too far in the future if need be,” Mr Gidley-Baird said.
The Wodonga Blue Ribbon Weaner sales kicks off this Friday, January 4, at 9am, at Northern Victorian Livestock Exchange (NVLX) Barnawartha, with thousands of head of cattle on offer including Angus mixed sex weaners, EU accredited, steers and heifers. Find out more here.