Southern store cattle price boost but numbers expected to dip

Southern store cattle price boost but numbers expected to dip

Beef
GOOD RESULT: Danny and brother Victor Spruce, Yendon, were happy with the prices they received for 20 steers and nine heifers at Ballarat.

GOOD RESULT: Danny and brother Victor Spruce, Yendon, were happy with the prices they received for 20 steers and nine heifers at Ballarat.

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Store cattle sales in southern Australia are seeing good prices, but supply is likely to drop off.

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With more cold weather coming stock agents in southern Australia expect to see a significant drop in numbers of store cattle being offered in the months ahead.

That could mean a price boost for those looking at offloading quality stock before spring, with a drop in numbers at last Friday's Ballarat store sale pushing prices up.

TB White & Sons agent Xavier Bourke, Ballarat, described the yarding of 2800 head as outstanding.

"Last sale we had 4700 cattle here, and this sale it's 2800 so a big difference," he said.

"We had plenty of good heavy Angus steers 400 to 550 kilograms, making 320-345 cents a kilogram, the next run down were making 310-320c/kg.

"That's probably 10 or 15c/kg dearer than it's been."

He said weaner cattle were anything from 300-350c/kg, and 450-480kg heifers made from 305-310c/kg.

"[Since the last sale a month ago], cattle are probably 20c/kg dearer, so on average you're looking at $60 to $80 dearer," he said.

Landmark Ballarat livestock manager Xavier Shanahan was equally as happy.

"I'd say every class of cattle were dearer, except for the very lightest of the heifers," he said.

"The real little cattle there was no movement there, but everything else definitely had more bounce in it."

He said feeder cattle were selling tremendously well.

"There'd be cattle there [on Friday] $150-$200 dearer," he said.

"Cattle that made $800, some of them were only $600 last month.

"Heifers were good, there was another $50-$100 a head in the heifers, and cows and calves were probably a couple of hundred dearer."

HEIFER SALES: This pen of 16 heifers offered by Warren Fawcett, Arnold, reached just under 300c/kg at Ballarat, with an average weight of 482 kilograms.

HEIFER SALES: This pen of 16 heifers offered by Warren Fawcett, Arnold, reached just under 300c/kg at Ballarat, with an average weight of 482 kilograms.

Mr Shanahan also noted that for the first time in at least four months there were a number of local and district buyers chasing stock for grass and pasture fattening.

But the majority of the offering went to major feedlots and processors in Victoria, southern NSW and South Australia.

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Miller, Whan & John director and livestock agent Andrew Whan, Mount Gambier, SA, said there was still plenty of demand for heavier cattle in South Australia and lighter cattle were still coming into the market.

But he said it was not surprising to see feedlotters there meeting their demands in Victoria.

"I think it's normal, [and you] need to be in the market to maintain the numbers," he said.

As winter tightens its grip, the forecast is that numbers will drop in the months ahead.

Mr Bourke said with a little bit of rain in the district a few people were holding on to see what was going to happen in spring and it was already evident there were not as many cattle round.

"I don't think we'll yard any more than this going forward," he said.

"We're right in the depths of winter here, [and] we're wet and cold at Ballarat, so as we get close to spring the numbers will drop off."

Mr Shanahan sees it the same way.

"I'd think we'd have a real back off in numbers now," he said.

"We have been saying it every month, but definitely if there was 2000 cattle here next month that'd pull it up you'd think."

While numbers are expected to drop and prices for heavier cattle to stay strong, he said lighter cattle may not get that boost.

"I don't know if the little cattle will get much dearer, everyone's doing it on not much feed," he said.

"The feeder cattle may have a little more movement in them.

"There's no doubt that by the time we get to August and September and everyone see a bit of spring ahead, if there was a big rain through NSW, the little cattle would get dearer for sure.

"But it's really hinging on rain now."

Mr Whan said they expected heavy cattle would remain strong and lighter cattle would continue to come to market.

"The south-east of South Australia has had a handy season, but in other areas late rain meant a slower start," he said.

"Lighter cattle will continue to come on the market with feed shortages driving that, [as well] high prices of supplementary feed [is] having an impact."

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