Ten prominent cattle buyers from Victoria, South Australia, NSW and Queensland bought 50 per cent of the 20,000 cattle sold in western Victoria last week.
Stock & Land's top-10 cattle buyers of western district weaners in January 2024 features buyers from four Australian states who bought more than 8000 cattle of the 20,000 mixed-sex calves put up for auction.
Backgrounders, restockers, feedlotters and stock agents feature in the 10 biggest cattle buyers list.
Hamilton agent and LMB Livestock and Land auctioneer Bernie Grant said buyers used the western district sales to purchase large runs of vendor-bred cattle from some of the best beef bloodlines in the country.
"All of the vendors were very happy with the prices and cattle unsurprisingly stood up very well," he said.
"It was one hell of a successful week and most cattle were 10-20 cents a kilogram dearer than what we expected leading into the sales.
"Black cattle averaged 325-330c/kg and Herefords averaged between 315-320c/kg on average."
The top 10 buyers who bought cattle at the eight sales across Hamilton and Casterton between January 8-12 are listed below in no particular order.
Andrew Whan and Peter Creek, Miller Whan & John, Mount Gambier, SA
Bought: 1980 mixed-sex weaners
South Australian agents and Miller Whan & John directors Andrew Whan and Peter Creek were among the largest buyers of western district cattle during the January 2024 week-long sales.
Mr Whan bought 1650 mainly black cattle ranging from 300-340 kilograms for the Ogilvie Group's backgrounding operations in south-east SA and western Victoria.
He also bought 400 steers for a handful of bullock fatteners in south-east SA.
Meanwhile, Mr Creek bought 330 Angus and Angus/Hereford-cross heifers, 270-330kg, for Lindsay Farms, Lindsay, which backgrounds cattle on the SA-Victorian border near Strathdownie.
"We do it every year," Mr Whan said.
"The cattle are there in the weight ranges that we want and if the market is at 400c/kg we're buying them, if they're at 200c/kg we're buying them - it doesn't change.
"These sales put a base in the number of cattle we will buy for the rest of the year."
Andrew Lowe, Wagga Wagga, NSW
Bought: 1200 steers
Commission buyer Andrew Lowe was one of the largest NSW buyers of Victorian cattle during the Hamilton and Casterton weaner sales.
The Wagga Wagga-based buyer was active throughout most of the western district sales during the second week of January, buying cattle predominantly for NSW backgrounders.
Among his purchases was several-hundred cattle for backgrounder David Grimison at Deniliquin, NSW.
Neil Darby, Alex Scott & Staff, Warragul
Bought: 877 steers
West Gippsland stock agent Neil Darby represented 17 farmers across West Gippsland when he bought more than 850 steers at Hamilton.
In total, he bought 225 Herefords and 652 Angus and Angus/Hereford-cross calves for bullock fatteners in the Warragul district.
"It was an outstanding line-up of cattle across the sales at Hamilton," he said.
"I reckon I've been going across to western Victoria for the best part of 30 years and the cattle just keep on getting better.
"It's a real credit to the vendors and the way in which the agents present them."
Terry and Jack Ginnane, Nutrien South Gippsland Livestock, Leongatha
Bought: 1012 mixed-sex weaners
Father-and-son duo Terry and Jack Ginnane bought more than 1000 mixed-sex calves for several regular clients in the southern end of the state.
Seventy Euro heifers were bought for a grain feeder in western Victoria, while the remaining 942 cattle were bought for eight clients in South Gippsland.
The purchase included 270 Angus steers for a bullock fattener at Tarwin Lower, and 200 heifers for a South Gippsland breeder, with 30 destined for a breeding program and the remaining 170 for a fattening operation.
Terry said most of the steer weaners purchased would end up as bullocks.
"We bought three or four pens of more than 70 cattle in pens so they're in large lots," he said.
"The cattle are proven and for our bullock-fattening clients, most of the cattle only go through one winter in South Gippsland.
"If you buy them in late-autumn, you pretty much always have to give them two winters."
Ben Davies, Thomas Food International, Adelaide Hills, SA
Bought: 950 steers
One of the largest feedlot buyers during the week was Thomas Food International, with assistant livestock manager Ben Davies buying 950 steers for the company's Southern Cross Feedlot at Tintinara, SA.
Mr Davies said he bought only Angus and Angus/Hereford-cross steers weighing 370kg and above.
The non-European-Union-accredited steers averaged 316 cents a kilogram, while the EU-accredited steers averaged 324c/kg.
"The quality of the yarding was exceptional considering the trying spring the western district had," Mr Davies said.
"It got very dry through mid-October and November, but despite that, the cattle presented really well."
From a feedlotter's perspective, Mr Davies said he was pleased that 90 per cent of the yardings on average were "well-weaned".
"This gave me a greater opportunity to be active on more stock throughout the sales," he said.
Luke Bavistock, Princess Royal, Burra, SA
Bought: 465 steers
South Australian feedlot Princess Royal was among the most active buyers of weaners early in the week after it bought 460 steers.
Princess Royal livestock manager Luke Bavistock said the cattle would be sent to the company's Burra, SA feedlot.
"We bought predominantly Angus cattle, but we do feed coloured cattle as well," he said.
"I was looking for cattle weighing 370-400kg.
"By the end of the week, prices had definitely risen from the first sales in early-January with some rise of up to 40c/kg depending on what area you were in."
Marc Greening, Injemira Beef Genetics, Holbrook, NSW
Bought: 1062 mixed-sex weaners
A supermarket grass-fed beef program equated for a large run of Herefords bought by NSW stud breeder Marc Greening.
The Injemira Beef Genetics stud principal bought 1062 weaner cattle featuring mostly Injemira bloodlines for grass-fed beef operations in NSW and Queensland.
Half of those cattle were bought for Injemira's grass-finishing program, while the remaining portion were destined for Willinga Pastoral, Wandoan, Qld.
Both operations supply cattle to Coles Graze, which markets its beef as being 100 per cent grass-fed and free to roam with no added hormones.
In total, Injemira bought 284 Hereford steers and 211 heifers, while Willinga Pastoral bought 344 steers and 223 heifers.
"As the week progressed, you could really sense the optimism in the market and the fact that buyers were really working on a bounce in the short-to-medium term," Mr Greening said.
"A lot of my bull-buying clients sell weaners through the western district sales and part of my program is to support them and that's why we buy cattle from Hamilton and Casterton each year."
Duncan Brown, Albury, NSW
Bought: 700 mixed-sex weaners
Regular store cattle commission buyer Duncan Brown was active across a number of sales.
He bought about 700 steers for two backgrounding operations at Coonamble, NSW, and Cootamundra, NSW and a third buyer in north-east Victoria.
"You know you can go to these sales and buy quality cattle," he said.
The cattle were bought at Hamilton and Casterton, as well as Euroa during the same week.
Yarram Park, Willaura
Bought: 497 heifers
Western district stud and commercial operation Yarram Park, Willaura, was one of the largest buyers of Hereford heifers after it purchased 497 cattle ranging on average between 260-340kg.
The draft of heifers featured Yarram Park bloodlines and were purchased to be used in the operation's commercial programs at Willaura and Broadlands, Lucindale, SA.
"The aim at the moment is to join them all and retain them in the commercial herd," Yarram Park general manager Craig Brewin said.
"We want to support our bull clients, but also buy with confidence in the Yarram Park genetics to use in a commercial system."
The operation is owned by Antony and Sybil Baillieu and comprises 3500-4000 Hereford breeders across its Victorian and SA operations.
Don Bowman, Elders Korumburra and Leongatha
Bought: 450 heifers
South Gippslander Don Bowman was one of three prominent Gippsland buyers at the western district sales and managed to buy 450 Angus heifers at the final two sales on day five of the week-long event.
"Genetics, that's why we go there," the Elders Korumburra and Leongatha agent said.
The heifers were purchased for one undisclosed cattle breeder who farms in South Gippsland and western Victoria.
Mr Bowman, who bought the cattle across Casterton and Hamilton's all breeds heifer sale on Friday, said the average weight of the heifers purchased was 355kg.
"We chase the top bloodlines and have been travelling there for a long time because we know these cattle perform well for us," he said.
A week earlier, Mr Bowman bought about 250 heifers during the north-east Victorian weaner sales.