'Why stud sales will break new ground'

Taking Stock: Why bull and ram sales will go through the roof this spring

Beef
Producers who have sat on their wallets for the past few years have settled back into sale rings to bid on new stud sires. Photos: Lucy Kinbacher

Producers who have sat on their wallets for the past few years have settled back into sale rings to bid on new stud sires. Photos: Lucy Kinbacher

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ACM's Brett Tindal writes this week's Taking Stock column.

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Bull and ram sales are set to go through the roof this spring as improved conditions open up big opportunities to rebuild the nation's herd and flocks.

Add with it the fact cash flow from buoyant prices will ease the pain of the past few years for many producers.

In what has been a tumultuous couple of years for stud breeders across New South Wales, there is a glowing light at the end of the tunnel as the seasonal conditions swing in their favor and they start to see a way back to where they were pre-drought.

Stud sales have started with a bang across the north of the state as producers who have sat on their wallets for the past few years settle back into sale rings to bid on new stud sires that will help them rebuild after the devastating drought they have endured.

We have already seen some outstanding results with the likes of Bowen Angus and Poll Hereford recording the highest average for an Angus sale in 2020 at $11,514, before the Higgins family at Curracabark Angus and Hereford knocked them off with a $11,615 average.

Mountain Valley Poll Herefords lifted their average by $2000 with a 99 per cent clearance, Cascade Poll Hereford and Angus topped at $24,000, with their Angus draft averaging $9655, while the Poll Herefords were not far behind at $8781 and manager Jack Smith said it was one of our best averages overall they had seen.

At the top of the state the Moore family at Lucrana Simmentals smashed their previous average by $3613 to record a $9750 average for 52 Simmental bulls, while early in the season Heart Angus at Tamworth lifted their average by $2200 with a 100 per cent clearance.

As the sales unfold I think we will see some eye watering results across all breeds and some smokeys that come out of the woodwork and stamp their names as serious breeders in their respective breeds.

Ringside at the Mountain Valley bull sale on Saturday.

Ringside at the Mountain Valley bull sale on Saturday.

As the past four months have unfolded the sheep world has been collectively waiting for their turn and hoping and praying the COVID-19 crisis abates prior to their selling season.

With many shows cancelled the chance to promote these animals and allow potential buyers to lay their hands on them hasn't eventuated and therefore they have had to test their own waters with the online world.

The first foray into this was the Bendigo online ram sale last week in Victoria, which surprised a lot of breeders with a 77 per cent clearance, topping at $10,750 and averaging a respectable $4691.

Nutrien Ag Solutions sheep and wool specialist Brad Wilson, Dubbo, advised me last week that during a six week period in May and June more than 1.5 million sheep crossed the Nullabor check point heading to NSW.

More specifically they were bound for the Riverina, South West Slopes and the Western Division areas like Condobolin and Lake Cargelligo that have been ravaged for numbers over a long period of time.

It is this sort of activity that will see a massive influx of ram buying in the spring, as rams of all descriptions will be sourced to join to these increased numbers.

The recent dry conditions have also seen producers hold their rams for an extra year or two while funds have been tight, but with a strong outlook for a crop, buoyant livestock prices and real demand to pay higher prices for better genetics to rebuild, all sits pretty well for a strong ram selling season.

I have been in this studstock role for 17 years and 10 years ago Merino ram sales were averaging around $1000 to $1200, while terminal and maternal sires were between $600 and $1000 at the tops. Now Merino sales across the board are averaging $2000 and many terminal and maternal sires now averaging $1000 to $1600.

My crystal ball tells me we will see some extraordinary prices across both bull and ram sales this year, with really strong clearances as demand for new genetics and the rebuild begins to get underway so watch this space.

It was only two years ago that then Meat and Livestock Australia managing director Richard Norton spoke to a Lambition dinner audience quoting lamb would go to 900 cents a kilogram (carase weight) and stabilise.

Well two years on and the MLA NSW restocker lamb indicator is 933c/kg and the MLA NSW trade lamb indicator is at 812c/kg, while the Eastern States Young Cattle Indicator finishing yesterday at 742.75c/kg.

This is the validation that will drive demand and prices this sale season alone. Cash flow is king but green grass creates demand and drive to spend more.

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