Recent starter-rain and a good forecast for early next week lifted the confidence of buyers at Grafton store sale on Thursday with prices up 40 to 60 cents a kilogram and more for the best categories.
Margaret and Stephen "Tank" Gray, Coldstream, reluctantly sold 192 milk tooth yearling Angus calves, 15 months, following the loss of agistment and hoped to get back their transport money.
"It's a shame because the heifers are future breeders but we have too many at our home block," Mrs Gray lamented just before the start of the sale.
In fact, the market kicked to unexpected heights and their best Angus steers 317kg made 294c/kg or $932 going to the Guyra district in anticipation of summer feed.
Their top heifers 306.7kg made 270c/kg or $828, going the same way.
"Am I happy now? What do you reckon," was Mrs Gray's retort.
Of the 326 head on offer at Thursday's sale 82 were steers 200 to 300 kilograms, averaging 267.9 cents a kilogram or $671 (173.6c/kg or 416.34 last month).
That category reached a top of 326.2c/kg and $839, with that best bid spent on Hereford/Santa Gertrudis steers 293kg at 286c/kg off Kungurrabar Station south of Tabulam. Their heavier brothers 342.8kg made 276c/kg or $946.
It seems the recent season has imbibed confidence, and indeed the evidence is there, with cheap cows bought at market bottom "straightening out" in their demeanour, according to Milan Glisovic, Gilletts Ridge.
If that doesn't indicate forward momentum what does?
Desley Spencer, Brushgrove was forced to sell drought-weaned calves to make room for others and offered Charolais/Santa Gertrudis steers 259kg to return a very encouraging 302c/kg or $782.
The Page family's Heifer Station presented black baldy steers out of first cross Brahman/Hereford cows, 220kg, that brought 326c/kg or $717.
The heaviest bullock, a black baldy at 533kg, stayed in the lower valley for finishing on a bid of 232c/kg or $1238.
Brahman cross steers 325kg made 274c/kg or $892.
Heifers were in shorter supply with the weight range 200-300kg presenting 27 head to averaged 195.9c/kg or $447 (130.3c/kg or $332 last month) and peaked at 210.2c/kg and $582.
Feedlot-weight females attracted interest with a two tooth Charolais heifer 410kg making 230c/kg or $943 going onto plenty of feed at Dorrigo.
Cows with calves sold liveweight, only a handful, averaged $767 to top at $790 ($460 and $630 last month).
Cows sold cents-a-kilo averaged 181.4c/kg or $925 and topped at 200c/kg and $1395 for empty Charolais, 697kg.
First cross Brahman/Hereford cows 455kg made 175c/kg or $796.
Angus 510kg made 205c/kg or $1046.
Long-time sale watcher Bronc Riley, Ulmarra, said Thursday's sale proved the old rules that worked during the 1974-79 crash still applied in the volatile cattle game - buy and sell in the same market.
"You've got to keep trading," he advised. "You've got to wear the highs and the lows."
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