Commercial Hereford breeders were left smiling as sale averages jumped by 70c/kg or $200 on last year at the Wangaratta Blue Ribbon Weaner sale.
Backgrounders and grass finishers pushed prices for Hereford steer weaners to $1220 and unjoined heifers to $1050.
Selling agents Elders, Rodwells, Corcoran Parker and Landmark yarded 4400 grown steers, and mixed sex weaners for the sale on Friday, February 5.
The sale, which featured 95 per cent vendor bred cattle, marked a record yarding in the fixture’s history.
Cattle sold to Benalla, Mansfield, Wangaratta, Molyullah, Oxley, Cobram, Pakenham, Wodonga, Yarrawonga, Coonamble, Gunnedah and Scone.
The sale was the first fixture to be held under the new roofed livestock exchange.
In the heavy Hereford steers weighing over 350kg liveweight, buyers paid $1120-$1275 or 316-351c/kg.
The middle run of steers, weighing 250-350kg, sold for $880-$1145, or 318-367c/kg, while the lighterweight steers under 250kg returned $730-$880 or 354-376c/kg.
Hereford cross steers sold for $820-$1050 or 319-338c/kg.
In the Black Baldy steer pens, those over 350kg sold for $1220 or 313c/kg and those under 350kg made $815-$1095 or 335-349c/kg.
Among the unjoined heifers, females weighing over 300kg returned $1050 or 305c/kg while the lighter weight females under 300kg sold for $685-$940 or 306-311c/kg.
Black Baldy heifers made $670-$870.
As an indicator, heavy Angus steers generally sold for 317-323c/kg – a pen of well-bred autumn drop weaners, EU accredited, 282kg, sold for $1050 or 372c/kg.
The major buyers in the whiteface steers were commission buyers Andrew Lowe and Duncan Brown for backgrounders in northern NSW, and Anthony Delaney, Rodwells Pakenham.
Landmark Wangaratta auctioneer Daniel Fischer said the sale lined up well with the western districts weaner sale but a little stronger on the EU accredited cattle.
Mr Fischer said generally the lighter steers under 300kg sold for 360-380c/kg.
“There was weight in the top end restricting our restockers from buying as prices were in the $1150-$1300 range,’’ he said.
“The Hereford’s were more consistent in their price right through than the black steers.
“The Hereford heifers hit pretty good money at $1050.’’
Topping the autumn drop Hereford steer weaners on a dollars per head basis was John and Yvonne Muraca, “Murpack’’, Londrigan, with 22 Injemira blood, EU accredited steers, weighing 365kg, and returning $1220 or 334c/kg.
The seconds, weighing 316kg, sold for $1115 or 352c/kg
Mr and Mrs Muraca also topped the Hereford heifers, with a pen of 30 February/March drop unjoined females, Injemira blood, 344kg, selling for $1050 or 305c/kg.
All of the Muraca heifers were bought by repeat buyer Marc Greening, Injemira Beef Genetics, Book Book, NSW.
The couple offered 90 steers and 60 heifers.
“I sold 25 heifers earlier for live export to China – they weighed 270kg and returned $975 (361c/kg),’’ Mr Muraca said.
“Last year my top pen of steers made $1030 – weights are down 20kg across the board because of the dry October.
“These steers were weaned in the first week of January and fed silage.
“The sale was strong with my average $200 up on last year despite the weights being 20kg down.
“Local steer finishers were the losing bidders on my steers with the top pen going to Thomas Foods International and the seconds to (commission buyer) Andrew Lowe.
“I have seen this sale grow from 1500 to over 4000 head with plenty of good Hereford cattle here today.’’
Topping the steers on a cents per kilogram was L & H Goldsworthy with a pen of Hereford and Shorthorn/Hereford cross, 202kg, selling for 376c/kg or $760.
David Evans, Red Camp, Myrrhee, Vic, offered 47 Poll Hereford steers and 40 heifers at the sale.
Last year, his top pen of steers returned $880 and the seconds $780.
This year the tops weighed 315kg and made $1075 or 341c/kg, with the seconds on $945 or 357c/kg.
“The steers are 10-15kg lighter due to no rain in late September and October,’’ Mr Evans said.
“They were yard weaned and run on lucerne stubble.
“I have bred Herefords for over 50 years – they are quiet, good doers and suit my country.’’
Mr Evans recently sold 30 PTIC cows, 10-11 years, to average $1200 in a restricted cow market at Wangaratta.
“The tops at 341c/kg was pretty reasonable compared to last year at 270c/kg,’’ he said.
His March/April 2014 drop heifers, Rosstulla and Wirruna blood, weighing 250kg, sold to Rodwells Pakenham for $770 or 308c/kg.
Shane Murphy, of Carboor, is fond of the Shorthorn-Hereford cross, and sold 9-10 month old steers, weighing 310kg and yard weaned, for $1050 or 338c/kg.
Running around 40 cows, he had come to the market hoping the steers make 315-320c/kg.
His crossbred heifers, same age, made $910.
“It was a strong sale with local buyers bidding on the steers,’’ Mr Murphy said.
Don and Margaret McFadden, “Lowanna’’, Kilfeera, sold their top pen of 16 steers, 7-9 months, Sugarloaf Creek and Lowanna blood, and weighing 348kg for $1145 or 329c/kg to Cobram buyer Peter Wilson.
This was up $225 on last year’s top of $920.
The couple offered 24 steers and seven heifers.
“People are starting to look at Herefords in general as they can outdo other breeds on weight-for-age, temperament and doing ability,’’ Mrs McFadden said.
Going on pre-sale interest from backgrounders, she had anticipated prices of 320-330c/kg for the Lowanna steers.
Corcoran Parker Wangaratta buyer Kevin Sanderson paid 350-360c/kg for Hereford steers for grass finishers at Molyullah, Oxley and Wangaratta.
Mr Sanderson, who celebrated 60 years as a livestock agent in October, quoted the market as stronger.
“This is the best run of Hereford steers I’ve seen at this sale for years,’’ he said.
“My clients have bought Herefords every time and the steers do well as bullocks on their country.’’
J & S Gorman, Bundalong: 10, 403kg, $1275 (316c/kg)
J & Y Muraca, Londrigan: 22, Feb/March drop, Injemira blood, EU accred, 365kg, $1220 (334c/kg); 44, 316kg, EU accred, $1115 (352c/kg)
K Muller, Molyullah: 12, 9-10 months, 375kg, $1215 (324c/kg)
Murphy Pastoral, Byawatha: 15, March 2014 drop, Wyuna and Morganvale blood, 379kg, $1210 (319c/kg); 16, 351kg, $1120 (319c/kg)
Lowanna, Kilfeera: 16, 7-9 months, Sugarloaf Creek and Lowanna blood, 348kg, $1145 (329c/kg)
Greg O’Brien, Merrijig: 11, 8-10 months, Mawarra and Glen Ellerslie blood, 327kg, $1100 (336c/kg)
Red Camp, Myrrhee: 19, EU accred, Rosstulla and Polaris blood, 315kg, $1075 (341c/kg), 28, 264kg, $945 (357c/kg)
S Murphy, Carboor: 14 Shorthorn/Herefords, 9-10 months, 310kg, $1050 (338c/kg)
Doogalook, Yea: 38, 10 months, 311kg, $1040 (334c/kg); 34, 10 months, 265kg, $975 (367c/kg)
Airlie Pastoral, Thoona: 8 Black Simmental/Hereford, 11 months, 342kg, $1035 (319c/kg)
F & R Tonini, Glenrowan: 15, 10-11 months, Glen Poll blood, 301kg, $1020 (338c/kg)
A Heywood, Everton: 10, 10-11 months, Dunoon blood, EU, 308kg, $1005 (362c/kg)
Elday Partnership: 14, March/April drop, Injemira blood, 248kg, $880 (354c/kg)
L & H Goldsworthy: 32 Hereford/Shorthorn, June/July drop, 251kg, $880 (350c/kg)
J & C Gorman, Bundalong: 22, steers, 389kg, $1220 (313c/kg)
K Muller, Molyullah: 14 steers, 9-10 months, 322kg, $1095 (340c/kg)
T & S Dinning, 6 steers, March/April drop, 325kg, $1090 (335c/kg)
S Murphy, Carboor: 16 heifers, $870
P & L Byrne, Wangaratta: 8 steers, 10-11 months, 251kg, $850 (338c/kg)
R & S Buckingham: 10 steers, March/April drop, Injemira blood, 233kg, $815 (349c/kg)
J & Y Muraca, Londrigan: 30, 344kg, EU accred, Feb/March drop, Injemira blood, $1050 (305c/kg); 40, Injemira blood, EU, Feb/March drop, $900 (306c/kg).
Doogalook, Yea: 22 Red Angus/Hereford, 10 months, 302kg, $940 (311c/kg)
Jim Mahoney, Mansfield: 11, 10-11 months, $870.
Red Camp, Myrrhee: 40, March/April drop, Rosstulla and Wirruna blood, 250kg, $770 (308c/kg)
Murphy Pastoral, Byawatha: 14, March 2014 drop, Wyuna and Morganvale blood, $740.