PRIME yearling and grown heifers are filling the gap for processors as supplies steady across the state due to better seasonal conditions in most areas, and are competing with producers who are replenishing female lines after years of steady sell down of breeders.
In the south where pasture growth is excellent, heifers were dearer and sold from 370 to 406 cents a kilogram to restockers at the prime sale at Yass last Thursday, while the trade paid 290c/kg to 421c/kg for suitable types.
Grown heifers bought by processors were firm, with yearling heifers 330kg to 400kg selling to 410c/kg and those above 400kg selling to 376c/kg.
With a lot of females already taken out of the industry, Greg Anderson, M.D and J.J Anderson, Crookwell, confirmed restockers are underpinning the prime heifer market and pushing the processors on suitable lots.
"The price for yearling and grown heifers is holding up, and not far behind those paid for yearling and grown steers," Mr Anderson said.
"With the pent up demand from restockers who are buying heifers for breeding, butchers still have to fill their orders so the heifer market is kicking along fairly well."
In the Hunter at Hunter Regional Livestock Exchange, Singleton, yearling heifers in the 330kg to 400kg weight range sold to 462c/kg and grown heifers sold to 385c/kg.
The market trend overall was firm to dearer, according to MLA report with heifers weighing 330kg to 400kg up by 10c/kg.
The yearlings maintained firm prices, with only quality and breed contributing to any price variations, with the medium weight heifers sold from 388c/kg to 410c/kg.
The prime conditioned younger cattle purchased by the butchers sold at a premium, with the best reaching 462c/kg, with many well over the 400c/kg range.
Zac Ede, Bailey Property and Livestock, Singleton, said breeders were active on the secondary types, while those finished on crops attracted more attention from processors.
On Tuesday at Inverell Regional Livestock Exchange Ben McMahon, Lehman Stock and Property, noted good black heifers pre-tested empty and weighing 450kg sold to 380c/kg to processors.
"There was a lot of butcher and processor competition for heifers in the 300kg to 400kg range and making 400c/kg," he said.
"Feeders were taking the lighter end of the heifers on offer to put a bit of condition on them."
At Tamworth Regional Livestock Exchange MLA reported yearling heifers sold to cheaper trends with demand not as great as that of the steer portion with market trends as much as 15c/kg cheaper on medium weights.
However, Nutrien Livestock manager Scott Simshauser reported a "rock solid" demand for prime heifers, but the high price was entirely dependent upon the quality of the pens on offer.
"Feedlots and breeders looking to replace stock were very active, and the better lines of females sold to the better prices," he said.
"But it is breed related with attention paid to Angus and Speckle Park heifers."
Mr Simshauser thought the restockers were price conscious and only prepared to pay to about $1400 a head which was keeping the processors keen for any cattle they wanted.
At Forbes Adam Chudleigh, McCarron Cullinane Chudleigh Pty Ltd, the prime heifer market as '"fully firm to slightly dearer" for those heifers above 350kg.
"We had a big supermarket order and good interest from southern processors, but no interest from breeders looking to restock," he said.
Mr Chudleigh quoted heifers in the 380kg to 480kg wieght range sold from 375c/kg to 400c/kg with the odd better pen of trade heifers sold to 420c/kg.
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