FEEDLOTS topping up supplies were left with little choice but to "go with the rising market" as 2022 prices opened at Wodonga much higher than expected.
Killara Feedlot's Scott Bremner, Quirindi, said at this time of year the northern Victorian sales such as Wodonga were the only area to source quality runs of young, well-bred weaners.
All up, he bought 2200 Angus steers and heifers to background before they enter the Elders Killara Feedlot at Quirindi.
"We go where the cattle are at the time," he said.
"Unfortunately, [with prices so high] it's at the situation where if you like them, you've got to buy them.
"You've got to make it work somehow.
- Wodonga weaners to $2570 | January 7 sale report
- Wodonga Angus heifers to $2680 | January 6 sale report
- Wodonga Angus weaners hit $2880 | January 5 sale report
"A feedlot is like a dairy, or like a petrol station - you've got to be open and you've got to have something in there every day.
"We can't not have the cattle, we have commitments."
Mr Bremner said the cattle offered at Wodonga were magnificent and a real credit to the vendors.
"You can pick the really proactive agents who have given some good guidance to clients on bull selection and protocols before pre-weaning et cetera which is integral," he said.
"When things are so dear we don't need them loosing any more weight."
Mr Bremner bought both steers and heifers to put in the paddock and background for the feedlot.
"The weaned Angus steers are ideally 350kg to 400kg," he said.
"We try to put 50kg to 60kg on them and then they become direct entry into the feedlot. They go into one of our top-end user orders.
"The heifers we aim to buy at 300kg to 350kg."
Mark Bogle, Sky Cattle, Emerald, Qld, snapped up about 300 Angus feeders at the Wodonga and Wangaratta weaner sales and was taking the opportunity of a better season in the north with both hands.
Originally from the Sunshine Coast, Mr Bogle now buys cattle to feed in central Qld and on the Darling Downs and grass finishes cattle to background.
He said that he flew his light plane from Emerald to northern Victoria to visit family in the new year and to "get a few black cattle and see how they go".
"Predominantly I'm buying northern-type cattle; Brahmans and crossbreds," Mr Bogle said. "But it [southern sales] are a totally different ballgame.
"You come down here and see 350kg to 400kg cattle that have come straight off mum. Up our way they could have been off mum for six to 12 months."
Mr Bogle planned to put half the cattle he bought on grass and the other half directly on to feed in northern Victoria or central NSW.
"Normally I'm doing a 100-day job for Kilcoy [Global Foods] in Queensland," Mr Bogle said. "I've also supplied to JBS."
He said 95 per cent of the cattle he'd bought were straight Angus.
"I'll probably look for a premium Angus, long-fed, 120-day job," he said.
Mr Bogle said it's been a good season in parts of Queensland.
"There are some really good areas but there are some dry parts. I know that up around Hughenden and Richmond there's been some really dry country.
"But we've had 10 to 12 inches in the past two months so it's been a really good break. If we get another good wet season behind us in the north I think it will really set up a good supply moving forward."
For vendors this year's feedlot competition was welcome.
Lou Pargeter, Howlong, sold Rangan-blood Charolais heifers weighing 378kg at nine to 10 months for $2290. He said his cattle were normally bought by the feedlot and although his heifers were heavier this year, they would still fit inside the weight range desired by feedlots.
He was thrilled to win the Charolais award for best presented pen of heifers.
- For full coverage of the weaner sales this week, including detailed market reports, The Land will post updates here.
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