Steer finishers, backgrounders and processors converged on the Victorian high country on Tuesday to bid to $1290 for whiteface cattle at the circuit opener, the Benambra Calf Sale.
Selling agents Sharp Fullgrabe yarded 1600 yearling and weaner Hereford, Hereford cross and Angus steers and heifers for the March 15 sale at the Hinnomunjie yards.
Buyers attended from Colac, Leongatha, Traralgon, Myrtleford, Benambra, Fish Creek, Albury-Wodonga, central western NSW and South Australia.
The overall run of Hereford yearling and weaner steers topped at $1155 and sold down to $760.
This was a jump of $235 on last year’s top of $900.
The Hereford-Shorthorn cross steers sold for $990-$1290 – up $255 on last year’s top of $1035.
Black Baldy steers made $805-$1270 while Angus steers topped at $1075.
In the heifer pens, Hereford females sold for $650-$900, Black Baldies $610-$940 and red baldies $975.
Vendors quoted their top prices jumping by $200-$300 on last year.
Graeme Fullgrabe, Sharp Fullgrabe, quoted the sale as equal to recent Gippsland store sales.
Mr Fullgrabe said the 23-year-old sale was used as a benchmark by buyers for the Benambra-Ensay-Omeo fixtures.
He welcomed the Herefords Australia sponsorship of the champion pen, saying it had created much interest among vendors.
“A lot of the cattle when into central NSW while the Olgivie famiy in south east South Australia, through Miller Whan & John, were big supporters today, along with AJ F O’Brien at Coonamble,’’ Mr Fullgrabe said.
“Mostly people are buying the cattle on the punt it will rain.
“I had orders to go to different agents in Roma and Dalby at a budget of 270c/kg but I couldn’t buy them for the weight, price and almost $100 freight costs.
“The middle run of cattle sold over 300c/kg but the heavy calves were around 290c/kg.’’
Steer finisher Alan Mitchell, Pellet River Downs, Wonthaggi, judged the Herefords Australia Champion Pen, awarded to Brian and Pauline Dyer, Benambra, for their 17 Hereford steers, aged 10 months.
The steers sold for $1145 to Robert and Joan Liley, Fish Creek, Vic.
Mr Mitchell described the steers as “what the cattle industry wants’’ – well bred with the ability to finish off grass to over 400kg at milk to two teeth.
A second generation Hereford steer finisher, he was out of the market for the first time in living memory due to the “worst season in south Gippsland for 100 years’’.
Brian and Pauline Dyer sold 78 April-May drop steers to a top of $1155 – up from $900 last year – and 50 heifers.
“I thought I would average $900 but the sale went well with our 78 steers averaging $1100,’’ Mr Dyer said.
The couple sold the equal top price Hereford heifers at $900 along with Roger and Yvonne Connley.
Topping the sale overall was Jim Pendergast, Penderscourt, Hinnomunjie, with his pen of 18 Hereford-Shorthorn cross steers, January-February drop, YavenVale and Rosstulla blood, selling for $1290 to repeat client Paul Pendergast, Benambra.
Jim listed a green weight for the steers of 457kg, to give an estimated curfewed selling price of 296c/kg. His seconds made $1175 with an estimated curfewed price of 303c/kg.
“My older calves were 6kg heavier this year and the younger calves 8kg heavier,’’ he said.
“The average for the first two pens was up $270-$280 on last year – the smallest pen made 330c/kg.’’
Jim has hosted the sale on his property for the past 23 years and confirmed this year’s top sgteer price as the highest in the event’s history.
Benambra steer finisher Paul Pendergast described the sale as “quite strong’’ after paying the top price of $1290.
He paid $1030 for the same article last year.
“I will keep these steers for 11 months, finishing them on pasture at 1kg a day, and then sell them to JBS Australia,’’ he said.
“I recently sold the steers I bought here last year, weighing up to 770kg, for up to $2340, with the whole 60 averaging $1900.’’
Ron Connley, 80, of Omeo, offered his last Braford-Hereford weaners at the Benambra sale in a move to a purebred Hereford herd.
Mr Connley sold 90 July-August drop steers and heifers in what he described as a “magnificent season’’.
“Last year I topped at $805 and averaged $742 for the steers and topped at $600 and averaged $523 for the heifers,’’ he said.
This year, Mr Connley and his wife Averil were pleased to receive a top of $995 for their Nunniong blood calves.
Vendor Tony Fitzgerald, Shannon Vale, was pleased to sell his top pen of Hereford steer weaners for $1030 or $240 up on last year, to H F Richardson & Co, Colac, and the seconds for $940.
Robert and Joan Liley, of Fish Creek, bought a run of 147 Hereford steers to finish for the JBS Grassfed Assurance program.
“They are always terrific cattle here – the prices were what I expected as good cattle are worth the money,’’ Mr Liley said.
“The market today was fully firm on recent sales around the country.
“I sold cattle during the winter and the job is terrific – vendors are finally being rewarded for all those years when things were tough.’’
Penderscourt: 18, Shorthorn/Hereford cross, Jan/Feb drop, 457kg, YavenVale and Rosstulla blood, $1290; 17, Shorthorn/Hereford, 407kg, $1175; 17, H/S, 307kg, $990.
B Dyer: 19 Herefords, $1155; 17, $1145.
P & M Soutter: 24 Herefords, $1140; 27, $1000.
C J Pendergast & Co: 18 Herefords, $1090; 21 Black Baldies, $1270.
R & M Pendergast: 10 Black Baldies, $1060.
T & A Johnston: 20 Herefords, $1035.
A Fitzgerald: 23 Herefords, $1030.
R & H Bowman: 14 Black Baldies, $1020.
R & R Gilmore: 14 Black Baldies, $1020.
L & S Pendergast: 28 Black Baldies, $1015.
R & A Connley: 7 Herefords, $995.
Macks Creek Pastoral: 16 Herefords, $970.
C J Pendergast: 23 Black Baldies, $940.
R & Y Connley: 24 Herefords, $900.
B Dyer: 26 Herefords, $900.
A Fitzgerald: 15 Herefords, $880.
R & M Pendergast: 11 Black Baldies, $830
J Wilcox: 17 Black Baldies, $795.
T & A Johnston: 19 Herefords, $795.