Prime cattle markets across the state continue on their buoyant course, with firm to dearer prices recorded thanks to continued interest from restocker and feedlot buyers.
Armitage and Buckley agent Luke Heagney said prices at the centre's prime cattle sale reflected a boost in processor bids as wet weather across the north and north-west created difficulties in accessing kill cattle. "The weather has made things very wet and the soggy paddocks very difficult to source cattle," he said.
Elsewhere, however, agents are reporting that green grass is the primary driver in the so-called "fat" market.
Braidwood livestock agent Nick Harton says backgrounders are fueling the steady prime market, with positive bids for the feeder job while cows to the processors had been back a bit but prices were rallying, suggesting another swing of that cycle.
"The backgrounders are the back-up," he said. "There is not a lot of prime cattle in these sales. It's more for the feeders and there is no slow-up with the trade blokes getting up to 630c/kg for 500kg. That's massive."
Hunter Valley agent Grant Watham, Thomas Livestock at Branxton, says prime cattle at the prime sale are a dying breed with 80 to 85 per cent of those sold going back to a paddock. Only a handful of export cattle are sold to the processors.
"They mainly go to backgrounders for the feedlots," he said. "It's essentially a liveweight sale and whether we change the name from a prime sale is one to debate."
Bathurst agent Michael Anderson is happy to stick with "prime" as the name of that weekly sale but concedes that feedlot buyers are more competitive than the butchers and processors.
"The prime market at the moment is driven by grass," he said. "Most sold are going back to the paddock while cattle to the feedlots are very sought after. Prices are very positive but the discrepancy between feeder steers and fat ones to the processors makes no sense. When a feedlot pays $3000 for a steer, 480kg to 500 kg, to go on feed for 100 days and yet the processors are paying $2700 to $2800. Obviously that animal is going to a premium market but domestically we're not seeing it."
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