Breeder numbers continue to swell saleyards as producers offload the rougher end of their reproductive stock, and the not-so-rough, ahead of winter frost. Meanwhile, rain in the western districts yesterday and overnight has presented some optimism during this long season.
Cattle slaughter numbers produced by Meat and Livestock Australia have fallen 24 per cent for females and 30 per cent for steers compared to last year at this time, and that's not counting the female fall by another 40 per cent compared to last week because of Easter and Anzac Day holidays.
Prices, meanwhile, continue to improve with medium cow trading at 191.7 cents a kilogram, up 28.5c/kg on last year while medium steer is sitting at 275c/kg up 37.2c/kg on this time last year. Only heavy steer, at 256c/kg is down on last year by 10.4c/kg along with vealer steer, at 271.4c/kg back by 3.5c/kg.
Operations manager at Inverell Livestock Exchange, Steven O'Brien, said cow numbers dominated Tuesday's prime cattle sale representing 900 of the 2400 on offer. Those cows presenting for the bidders tended to be in forward store condition rather than ready for slaughter, reflecting producers' desires to trim breeding stock ahead of winter.
Dubbo livestock agent Paul Dakin predicted the female sell-off would continue ahead of winter, with feed prices now beyond the scope of even the most dedicated producers.
Meanwhile, numbers of cattle booked for today's prime sale at Dubbo have fallen ahead of rain in the west.
"People are still unloading cattle, and they will keep cutting because feed's too dear but if they see some light at the end of the tunnel - like with this rain forecast - then they'll go again. they always do," said Mr Dakin.
At Roma, Qld, 72mm of rain over the Easter week has galvanised hope among graziers with the result that just 300 head are booked for today's prime cattle sale. Moving forward, the district saleyards will only be holding a prime sale every fortnight, rather than once a week, until numbers increase.
At Wagga, where 2300 head were yarded, back by a thousand ahead of good soaking rain, the cow market was a feature of the sale according to MLA reports, lifting 30c/kg.