Prime cattle numbers continue to rise at selling centres across the state as producers finish stock the to best of their ability given seasonal conditions and taking full advantage of the very attractive prices being offered.
But the supply of heavy grass-fed steers and heifers is limited as the drought bites hard into producers incomes across the north, and southern producers are stuck with a relatively cold winter but one in which only a few areas have benefited from decent rain.
Reflecting on the availability of the heavier end of the steer and heifer sales at NVLX Wodonga, Paull and Scollard Landmark Holbrook-based agent Matt Pitzen said not a lot of that category are coming through.
"Wintry conditions are really slowing numbers of bullocks coming in off grass," Mr Pitzen said.
Wintry conditions are really slowing numbers of bullocks coming in off grass
"The market was off the pace this week with only a couple of processors competing for the heavy bullocks on offer."
He was comparing the sale with those held in the past couple of weeks where processors were really jostling for those heavier cattle on offer.
"But today, when there was a smart pen under offer, there was a lot of interest," Mr Pitzen said.
"I think there will be limited numbers of grass-fed heavy steers offered, but the feedlots are taking any of the better younger cattle they can get."
At Scone, MacCallum Inglis agent Stuart Sheldrake also reported limited numbers of heavier steers and heifers coming into the market.
"The drought here is a big issue and we aren't seeing a lot of heavy finished cattle coming through," he said.
"Processors are paying 590 to 600 cents a kilogram (carcase weight) over-the-hooks."
At Wagga Wagga, Landmark agent Hamish McGeoch said heavy cattle were still coming through the yards and attracting strong processor interest.
Considering how dry it had been, he pointed to producers who were doing a good job and finishing stock, whether supplementary grain-fed or crop or both.
"Those who have been able to put weight onto their stock are being rewarded, but there are still a few producers who are not able to get the weight they are used to because of the season," Mr McGeoch said.
"We had four-tooth steers on Monday weighing 662kg make 320c/kg (liveweight)."