Grass fed steer finishers fired the opening salvo in the southern Australia weaner calf sale circuit, paying up to 430c/kg for Hereford calves at Casterton on January 10.
A shortage of cattle coupled with good widespread seasonal conditions and a low Australian dollar created strong buyer demand from Gippsland, South Australia, Tasmania, southern and central NSW.
Hereford cattle with weight and frame were sought after for finishing for the grassfed or lotfeeding markets.
In a yarding of 2000 Hereford, Black Baldy and Angus weaners offered by Landmark Casterton, vendors were left smiling as prices lifted almost 100c/kg or $230 a head on last year.
Autumn 2016 drop Hereford steers weighing 250-350kg liveweight sold for 361-430c/kg, or $1045-$1316 – equating to a rise of 97c/kg or $234 on last year’s top pens.
Heavier steers weighing 350kg and over made 360-376c/kg or $1274-$1395 – a rise of 57c/kg or $228 on last year.
A single pen of steers under 250kg sold for 428c/kg or $1082 while Black Baldy steers, 250-350kg, sold for 366-399c/kg, or $1249-$1406.
European Union accredited steers sold for 360-418c/kg or $1139-$1395, with the majority staying in the system.
As an indicator, Angus steers weighing 370-430kg sold for 362-397c/kg and lighter weights at 300-370kg made 372-418c/kg.
The western districts fixture, held on soft flooring, was the opening weaner sale for the whiteface breed for 2017.
Backgrounders, steer finishers and lot feeders attended from Mt Gambier, Naracoorte, Leongatha, Casterton, Tasmania, Bathurst, Molong and Wagga Wagga.
Topping the Hereford market on a cents per kilogram basis was Casterton vendors, Jack Rees, “Retreat’’, and Ivan Wombwell, “Hazelbank” with their Taronga and Wilkah blood 263kg steers for 430c/kg to Mt Gambier agents Miller Whan John.
Mr Rees was pleased to see his heavier steers, 316kg, make 400c/kg or $1264 – up from $934 last year.
“The Herefords matched it on a cents per kilogram basis with the black cattle today,’’ he said.
‘’The sale was very good, especially on the lighter cattle – we are 100c/kg better off this year.’’
David Jenkin, Banemore Herefords, Penshurst, said there was a slight premium for EU accredited pens.
“Most vendors are around 50c/kg better off this year – in 2016 they were averaging $1000 and now it is $1200,’’ he said.
Alan and Debbie Millard, “Welbanite’’, Merino, topped the Hereford pens on a dollars per head basis at $1395 – a jump of $443 on their top pen last year.
The pen of 34 Banemore and Bowmont blood steers weighed 374kg, were EU accredited and were bought by Wagga commission buyer Andrew Lowe for 373c/kg.
Mr Millard said liveweight had increased from 286kg last year.
“I sold cattle to the live export to Russia last year but everyone deserves to have a go at these fantastic Hereford genetics this year,’’ he said.
“I like the Herefords placid nature and weight gain, and they are easy on the eye.’’
Rob Jolliffe, JRI Partnership, Merino, sold Wilkah and Glenfern blood steers, 324kg, EU accredited, for 397c/kg or $1286 to Andrew Lowe, and his seconds for 410c/kg to Pinkerton Palm Hanlyn & Steen, Naracoorte.
Mr Joliffe said Herefords fitted well into his mixed enterprise.
“I like their temperament – it’s nice to see those white faces always having a look at what I’m doing,’’ he said.
Kevin and Alan McDonald, “Sunningdale”, Digby, sold their top pen, weighing 342kg, for 374c/kg or $1279 to Tasman Holdings, Tasmania.
Their seconds sold for 400c/kg or $1212 and thirds to 428c/kg or $1082 to Mark Barton, Landmark Molong.
“We have had a terrific year with 41 inches (1025mm) of rain and the cattle are looking really good,’’ Alan said.
“We sell here annually so this is the first market we have seen for a year.
“Herefords do really well in this country – our top steers made $1036 last year.
“This year they are 20kg heavier and were supplemented with hay only.’’
Manny and Jean Carlin, “Butches”, Casterton, opened the Hereford draft with a pen of 27 Taronga blood steers, EU accredited, and 364c/kg. They sold to Tasman Holdings for 360c/kg or $1310.
“The weights were 20-30kg up this year with the good season,’’ Mr Carlin said.
“I like their temperament – they come right up to the feed cart.’’
JBS Australia bought the top pen of Black Baldy steers, weighing 377kg and EU accredited, for $1406 or 373c/kg from vendor, Cloverdale.
Landmark Casterton branch manager Greg Bright said Gippsland and NSW buyers were active on the lighter weight cattle and lotfeeders on the heavier weights.
Mr Bright said the sale drew active buyer support from JBS Australia and Thomas Foods International but there was no live export orders.
He said northern buyers were principally interested in lighter weight Hereford and Angus steers.
“Vendors are 50-80c/kg above last year – our top price last year was 354c/kg and this year it was 444c/kg (on 260kg Angus calves),’’ he said.
“We were at 400-410c/kg on the Herefords – grass was driving the market today.
“There is no point having a paddock full of feed and nothing to eat it.’’
Retreat & Hazelbank: 11, 263kg, Taronga and Wilkah blood, 430c/kg or $1130
Strathlea: 8, Melville Park blood, 284kg, 418c/kg or $1187
Wilkah: 5, Wilkah blood, 278kg, 410c/kg or $1139
Karingal: 5, Injemira and Ardno blood, EU, 292kg, 407c/kg or $1188
Glenside: 8, Banemore blood, 301kg, 405c/kg or $1219
Retreat: 9, Taronga blood, 316kg, 400c/kg or $1264
Sunningdale: 12, Banemore blood, 303kg, 400c/kg or $1212
JRI Partnership: 21, Wilkah, Glenfern and Taronga blood, 324kg, EU, 397c/kg or $1286
Welbanite: 24, Banemore and Bowmont blood, EU, 327kg, 395c/kg or $1291
Woodlands: 19, Allendale blood, 341kg, EU, 341kg, 386c/kg, $1316
Village View: 14, Banemore blood, 324kg, EU, 382c/kg or $1237
Strathlea: 15, Melville Park blood, 328kg, 380c/kg, $1246
Karingal: 23, Injemira and Ardno blood, 358kg, EU, 376c/kg or $1346
Sunningdale: 21, Banemore blood, 342kg, 374c/kg or $1279
Welbanite: 34, Banemore and Bowmont blood, 374kg, EU, 373c/kg or $1395
Hazelbank: 11, Wilkah blood, 373kg, 365c/kg or $1357
Glenside: 13, Banemore blood, 351kg, 363c/kg or $1274
Boot Hill: 7, Glenfern blood, 341kg, 361c/kg or $1231
Butches: 27, Taronga blood, EU, 364kg, 360c/kg or $1395
Wyuna: 16, Injemira blood, 357kg, 360c/kg or $1285