AS THE dry persists and temperatures increase, numbers were generally up across the state this week and the quality of offerings was something of a mixed bag.
Restockers from the far south competed with lot feeders for an increasing number of heifers being unloaded. Demand from processors was weaker.
Tamworth and Inverell both experienced an increase in numbers, with Central West restockers featuring strongly at Inverell.
Very light, better quality weaners sold at Inverell to slightly dearer trends of between 4 and 14 cents a kilogram for a limited offering. Better conditioned heifers were up about 10c/kg.
An improved bull market had heavy bulls reaching 315c/kg.
At Scone on Tuesday the market was a little cheaper, mainly on the back of reduced quality.
Yearling steers sold to lot feeders from 260c/kg to 288c/kg with a preference for the lighter weights, which topped out at 302c/kg.
Wagga Wagga was lightly down on numbers this week, but there was a bigger percentage of well finished yearlings suited to both trade and export processors.
There was a good supply of well-bred secondary stock suitable for lot feeders and restockers.
Backgrounders, feed lots and agents looking to fill a live export boat order were all active in the market.
Trade heifers sold to an average of 285c/kg and light weight store heifers returning to the paddock sold to strong interstate competition from 202c/kg to 288c/kg.
At Carcoar a top quality yarding had buyers servicing feeder orders, pushing feeder steers up 17c/kg, with prices ranging from 253c/kg to 324c/kg. Feeder heifers sold from 245c/kg to 281c/kg.
At Gunnedah there were quite a few well finished cattle presented. Restockers were active on good quality young calves, pushing prices as much as 23c/kg dearer.
Landmark Townsend Scone and Merriwa principal Peter Townsend said numbers were up at Scone on Tuesday, whereas they had been static at about 600 to 800 this week there were 1070 offered.
"People are starting to unload calves now, in a bid to save their cows," said Mr Townsend.
"Lighter calves at about 100kg to 130kg are normally pretty sought after, but they haven't been as bouyant and they're still back around the 180c/kg mark.
"Once they get up around the 150kg mark people are getting better prices."
Mr Townsend said most producers were probably running between half to a third of the numbers they would prefer, so some patches of the district were holding up okay, but ramping up production would take time should the season turn.
"I think now water will soon dictate numbers as much as feed, because wells and creeks are drying up."