Cull cows hit $2842 as rain fires small yards

Turn in the season highlights viability of regional saleyards

Saleyards at Dorrigo have enjoyed rising prices for cattle, with best prime cows selling for 300c/kg last Wednesday.

Saleyards at Dorrigo have enjoyed rising prices for cattle, with best prime cows selling for 300c/kg last Wednesday.


Smaller saleyards in regional locations have been under pressure in recent years to compete with larger selling centres but livestock agents argue otherwise


January rains have turned the North Coast green and a return to viable cattle prices has galvanised the immediate future of smaller selling centres.

At Dorrigo's fortnightly prime sale last Wednesday a 950 kilogram Angus cow from Rodger Pryce, Brooklana, sold for 299c/kg or $2842, due in part to the presence of a third processor, JBS, complementing the bidding from long time buyers NH Foods and Bindaree Beef.

Ray White livestock agent Tim Bayliss said co-operation with Elders, the town's other marketing arm, along with a capable producer-led committee in charge of the council owned saleyards made the deal happen.

While they may only house a few hundred head each fortnightly sale, the quality of the coastal offering was commended by buyers and only expected to get better.

"We are a little bit forgotten over here," he said.

"It's a beautiful spot to live, a lovely spot, but as far as marketing of stock we are a bit of an after thought.

"We have got some tremendous operators, we have got some real high performance farmers. I think we have the ability to produce stock as good as anyone else."

The seven-year-old high-priced stud cow, believed to be a record sale in that category for the small yards, had lost a calf and was only supplemented with hay throughout the drought.

She was among a line of five cull cows that brought a strong return for Mr Pryce who opted to retain his cattle through the trying conditions.

"I knew she was a big girl but I didn't realise she was 950 kilograms," he said.

Mr Bayliss said if prices continued to stay firm more producers would be likely to send their cattle through the saleyards rather than direct.

"If you start to have competition in there and start to offer the vendors some tremendous money then they will start to put stock in that sale," he said.

"If they buy the cattle we will put more into there instead of going direct. That's probably what we have headed to because we haven't had tremendous money at the yards before.

"Now we can hopefully access better money at the saleyards and that helps the town, that helps the saleyards stay viable...hopefully it's a snowball."

Between Lismore and Gloucester east of the Range there are seven regional selling centres.

Currently there are discussions underway about the future of Kempsey saleyards, owned by the local council, while privately held Wauchope is up for sale. Taree could be regarded as under utilise. Gloucester, returning from the worst drought in living history, recorded a strong result last week.

Macksville is a vibrant centre, of not limited geographically while Grafton continues to record solid returns for vendors. The fact that the Clarence Valley has recorded more rain since New Year than fell all of last year certainly helps.

Member for Oxley Melinda Pavey, who has three saleyards in her electorate, has previously said State Government would welcome direction from producer groups and agents regarding the future of these smaller facilities.

She denied there was movement afoot to build a super centre near Kendall that might cater for the district, at the expense of smaller yards.

Richmond Valley producers famously stood up for their saleyards in 2016 when the local council considered selling it to private enterprise.

Instead, the council sourced government grants and pitched in themselves to create a combined pool of $14 million to create an iconic facility that attracts business from a wide catchment that stretches beyond Roma, Qld and Inverell.

But Mr Bayliss argued super centres fail to service local clientele like the smaller yards, particularly with the ability to nurture community and service the mental health of rural producers whose greatest contact with people was during a sale.

Ian Argue of Kempsey Stock and Land hailed the 1026 head Kempsey sale lastThursday as the best he had seen in his 40 odd year career.

He believed the coastal areas could help meet demand for light young cattle, which soared to 476c/kg as buyers from Queensland, Moree and Tamworth competed for stock.

"The coast is a breeding ground so there is a lot of little cattle on the coast and there is a lot of people wanting to buy those smaller money cattle," he said.

Ian Weir and Son agent Glenn Weir who sells at the Lismore saleyards said they had received solid inquiry from those looking for cattle, particularly steers.

"It's a good time to have a few cattle in the paddock," he said.

"We were saying all along those people that could hold their cattle in the drought could get a reward and we are seeing that."


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