Grafton monthly store sale yarded 1240 head under a pall of bushfire smoke on Thursday and those selling were pleasantly surprised at the keener bids, although the market softened overall.
Steers to 400 kilograms numbered 760 and averaged 237 cents a kilogram or $646 (250c/kg and $683 last sale), reaching 298c/kg and $1035.
Heifers to 540kg, 300 head, averaged 183c/kg or $422 (189c/kg and $426 last sale), reaching a top of 246c/kg and $932.
Heavy grown steers made the most money, averaging 243c/kg and $1289.
The handful of cows weighing more than 400kg reached a top of $1102. Lighter cows averaged $371.
A ute load of livestock agents from Victoria certainly put a floor in the market, sending the likes of Angus, 291kg for 260c/kg or $757 to Western Victoria where there is no pasture, but plenty of hay and grain.
Agent Jayden Ferrari, Northern Victoria Livestock, said the buying group came away from the Northern Rivers with 570 head, from both Grafton and Casino selling centres, concentrating on British bred cattle and a few pens of Euro cross, provided they didn't show too much Brahman ear.
"Steers were enough money at 240-270c/kg considering we have to put 20-30c/kg freight on top," he said. "Otherwise they'e too dear for us."
Fire affected cattle were price takers on the day, with CQ Pastoral off-loading 270 weaned cattle to save remaining feed for breeders on their Macleay Valley property.
Their better milk tooth Angus, 320kg made 264c/kg or $846 going onto feed at Black Mountain via Guyra.
Manager Malcolm Lloyd said the destocking operation was made more complicated by fires at their other property near Baryulgil, where Mr Lloyd's partner Kylie Squires busted ligaments in her knee while defending pasture.
Other pens went to feed at Glen Innes through Jason Chard, including a pen of Angus, 323kg for 266c/kg or $861.
Best Angus steers produced by Trevor Frewan, Nana Glen, 339kg, made 298c/kg or $1010 and went to West Talgai feedlot, Allora, Qld. Best bullock, a Santa cross, made $1544 going to Lee Pratt Beef for processing.
Tom Grantham, Lilypool Road, South Grafton was pleased with his $906 average for four tooth steers, 380kg, going onto feed through George Hardacre, Central Bucca.
The 89-year-old said money earned on the day would go towards feeding what remained. He will re-assess his stocking rate after Christmas depending on water supply.
Peter Lake and Kim McKenna are fortunate to have Grafton town water and enough standing feed after destocking earlier in the year.
They took home a pen of Yamba bred Senepol/ Droughtmaster, 365kg, at 228c/kg or $834.
"We like that type," said Mr Lake.
Lance Timms and Desley Spencer, Brushgrove, were forced to sell cattle on agistment at Whiporie after the Myall Creek Blaze decided to take a detour through that country, making 272c/kg or $952 for two tooth Angus cross, 350kg, going onto feed at Glen Innes.