Slow start to spring but season and prices look promising

Slow start to spring but season and prices look promising


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With wet and cold weather persisting, the traditional spring influx of southern cattle is starting slowly, but providing good rewards for those going to market.

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The cold and wet start to spring has slowed the expected arrival of well finished cattle to markets in southern Australia.

During winter, cattle supplies in the south historically dwindle.

This year, that reluctance to sell during the colder months has also been driven by good rain over large parts of Victoria and south-east South Australia.

Those cold and wet conditions have continued into spring, and while both states are heading towards summer with good feed and good prices there are worries that when the weather warms up, those advantages will dry up as quick as the pastures.

Elders Bairnsdale auctioneer Morgan Davies said it was looking like a good start to the season, but there were concerns over how long it would last when the weather warmed up.

"The general consensus is yes, we are going to get a season in South and Central Gippsland," he said.

"It's very wet at the moment.

"They had hundreds of millimetres in August, and another two inches (50mm) over the weekend.

"Anywhere within 150 kilometres of the coast is good, but everyone's a bit dubious about the season and how long it can go."

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Morgan Whan & John livestock agent Andrew Whan, Mount Gambier, SA, said what will happen in summer was always a worry, but it was one thing they had no control over.

"Yes it's a concern but you've got to wait to see what happens," he said.

Landmark Ballarat livestock manager Xavier Shanahan said they were not expecting an immediate increase in numbers being offered.

"Our season is good, but I don't think there will be a rush of store cattle," he said.

"It just looks as if our season is good enough for people to be encouraged to put a little bit more weight into them.

"There is no rush to sell at this point."

Spring promising

On Wednesday, the Mt Gambier prime sale had around 600 head on offer and Mr Whan said while it was plain offering, with stock showing the signs of a tough autumn and winter, spring looked promising.

"We certainly need more sun, but also still looking for more rain," he said.

"But it's alright, we've had a pretty good winter we haven't had an over wet winter and as long as we continue to get spring rain we will finish off alright."

Mr Davies said in Gippsland, numbers being offered remained low, but some had taken advantage of good prices.

"A lot of guys have fed cattle through the winter and are getting the best of them out right now," he said.

"Cattle prices are really good, we've never seen them better, so there's certainly opportunities, and there always is.

"You just gotta be able to maneuver and meet the ebb and flow."

"South Gippsland can hold a lot of cattle, Central Gippsland's the same and East Gippsland's still loaded up.

"There's a lot of gullies and valleys and it's amazing where cattle come from."

Mr Whan said there are plenty of cattle still in south east South Australia, but they won't be coming onto the market immediately.

"There is certainly cattle out there but I think they will come on slow due to the later autumn break and a tough start to winter," he said.

"Also a lot of cattle were bought out of NSW in late summer, early autumn and they were smaller cattle than are normally bought.

"Those cattle will be there but they won't be the weight that they normally are, so will probably be held onto a little bit longer.

"Instead of coming on as fat cattle they will come on as feeders."

Mr Davies said there are plenty of Gippsland producers who took the opportunity to buy cattle out of drought-stricken northern NSW.

"There has been a lot of guys heading up north to buy," he said.

"It got a little bit dearer there for a while and did settle down a bit, but by the sounds of it the season's packed it in again, so I think the sales might start again."

Mr Shanahan said the central part of Victoria has not seen that northern influx.

"We are probably not a big restocking area, more a breeding area," he said.

"There will be some people who take a little bit of a chance on the season being good enough to grow and fatten, but where we are is good at the minute.

"[We] just need a bit of sunshine to make the grass grow.

"All the stock have had a pretty hard August.

"But there won't be any huge push to pick up breeding numbers or cows and calves or anything of that nature.

"Everyone's just a little bit cautious."

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