Well-conditioned first cross Hereford/Brahman females in calf to Angus sold for a top of $1610 at the Casino Liveweight sale on Thursday, with 400 head on offer, but the tail end of the offering proved to be a give-away with most of the state in drought.
Bucking that trend were buyers from the Tweed Valley, who have grass and water, while everyone else on the North coast has one or the other, but not both as this district records its driest January since at least the mid 1960s.
Greg and Belinda Makejev, Mallanganee, bred the top line on the day, using Battalion Hereford bulls over Brahman cows to produce first cross breeding heifers, which were offered back in calf to Seaforth Angus with Josh James, Murwillumbah, the successful bidder.
"We're not too bad," said Mr Makejev, who has country in the some of the worst drought-affected areas. "We've been running under-stocked. You'll always sell a fat cow but it's hard to sell a skinny one."
"We've got some Rhodes grass and rough feed. We've got more than some. But this is a buyer's market if you've got grass."
Alan Maloney, Bentley, sold first cross cows by Geoff Hannah Hereford and Bizzy Brahman for $1300, back $1000, on last year's special sale price and admitted it was a tough season.
"Our water's good but the feed's gone," he said. "These cows have been eating dirt since December. This is the worst I've seen it in 20 years."
Another pen of his Santa/ Herefords sold to Super Forest Plantations for $1220 through livestock manager Trevor McKenna who said the family company’s Bentley property had available grass on flats, with native hardwood trees, unaffected by drought, growing on the hills.
Gary Jarrett, with property at Bonalbo, sold Charolais cross in calf to Angus for $1410 to Tintinbar grazier Owen Lynn.
Lismore Agent Ron Chittick, Bishop and Co, bought Santa Hereford with calves for $1200, saying his own property at Clunes was the driest since the mid 1960s and fenceposts were bouncing out of their holes when struck by a hydraulic ram.
“The only way is to start a hole and fill it water and leave it before digging some more,” he said. “It’s just as dry two feet down.”
Scott Humphries, Wellbatch, Mummulgum sold Santa/Hereford back in calf for $1040 going to Ben Reardon, Ettrick, who has feed and water in spite of the fact that the Kyogle shire as a whole received almost zero rain since October.
The Whitney family, Old Bonalbo, sold EU accredited poll Hereford, unjoined, for $740 to Scott Tough, Kyogle.
Tim Marshalll,Sleepy Hollow on the Tweed bought black baldy heifers for $600.
Dave Murphy, Cedar Point via Kyogle, took a punt paying $460 for cows and calves with a plan to fatten them on grain. “I put a horned Hereford on grain for 200 days and the brisket was long as it was wide,” he said.
The sale was hosted by Casino agents T&W McCormack along with Ramsey and Bulmer.