Backgrounders and lot feeders led the charge for whiteface weaners at Victoria’s Premier 62nd annual steer weaner sale at Casterton on Monday, paying to a top of $1200.
The fixture was the circuit opener for the southern Australia weaner calf sales, drawing strong buyer demand from South Australia, Gippsland, the Riverina, central NSW and NSW central tablelands.
It had been traditionally held on the Friday of the sale week but was moved to a Monday in order to attract more buyers.
Selling agents, Elders Casterton, yarded 1446 Hereford, Black Baldy and Angus autumn 2016 drop steers.
Cattle were mostly booked to Alex Scott & Staff, Warragul; Carter Lindsay & Weber, Dubbo; Ray White Emms Mooney, Molong; Elders Holbrook, Elders Deniliquin, Miller Whan & John, Mt Gambier, Princess Royal, Burra, SA, and an export order through Landmark International.
There were few pens weighing under 250kg with those calves making 260-311c/kg or $624-$771.
Autumn drop weaners weighing 250-350kg sold for 280-330c/kg or $702-$1083 while heavier weaners, over 350kg, fetched 291-314c/kg or $1030-$1200.
In the Black Baldy pens, calves over 350kg sold for 325-330c/kg or $816-$1125, and a single pen over 350kg made 305c/kg or $1122.
As an indicator, heavy Angus weaners sold for 310-318c/kg and the lightweights 323-334c/kg.
In the afternoon, Black Baldy steers generally made 315-336c/kg at the Hamilton Independent Agents sale.
Buyers at Casterton were met with well-drafted, weaned and even lines of one-mark calves, with the majority European Union accredited and all well presented by vendors.
Elders Casterton territory sales manager Sam Broomby said the export order from Landmark International boosted the heavy end of the calves.
“They were looking for cattle weighing 300-350kg at 310-330c/kg,’’ Mr Broomby said.
He rated the new Monday morning sale as a success. Mr Broomby said the heavy Hereford steers sold 10c/kg above expectations.
“We had up to 900 Hereford cattle penned and it was consistent right the way through,’’ he said.
“They had all been weaned for at least four to five weeks.
“Many stayed in the EU system which rewards people for their effort.’’
Mr Broomby said the middle run was drafted into bigger runs of one-mark calves to suit buyers.
“The lightweight cattle could’ve been a bit dearer but 330c/kg is still pushing $900-$1000 a head which is exceptional.’’
The Herefords Australia champion pen was judged by Ben Redfern, Ray White Emms Mooney, Molong, NSW, and awarded to Ian Ross, Trevallas Park, Casterton.
Mr Redfern described the calves as “even, stretchy and properly weaned’’.
The pen of 20 Oak Downs, Kerlson Pines and Melville Park blood steers weighed 363kg and sold for 308c/kg or $1118 to Carter Lindsay & Weber, Dubbo, NSW.
Topping the sale was two pens of Taronga blood steers, 325-326kg, selling for 330c/kg to Alex Scott & Staff, and offered by brothers Bill and Geoff Lambert, Taronga, Paschendale.
The Lamberts opened the Hereford run with a pen weighing 391kg, the heaviest pen of autumn drop weaners they have ever offered.
They sold for the top whiteface dollars per head price of $1200 to Princess Royal feedlot, Burra, SA.
“We weaned the calves at the end of November and they were helped by the late rain,’’ Bill said.
“Moving the sale to a Monday is a good idea as we have missed out on the buyers over the last few years.’’
Bill said the record prices paid last year had injected confidence in the district with producers investing in machinery and infrastructure.
Going on recent sales, the Lamberts had hoped to average 330c/kg for their 178 March-April drop steers.
“Today’s prices were sustainable for both the buyer and the breeder,’’ Bill said.
Their consignment equated to 59 tonnes of beef, with an average liveweight of 332kg and average price of 319c/kg or $1060 – or 67c/kg down on 2017.
This year’s average price was also 10c/kg back on 2016 but 33c/kg above the 2015 average price of 286c/kg.
“We are $200 behind 2017 but it is still good, we are thinking,’’ Geoff Lambert said.
“Our average weight is up from 328kg last year.
“Our lighter weaners bought by a steer finisher last year were sold at the spring store sale for a $200 profit (less expenses).
“Hopefully, the bullock fatteners buying today will come out in front.
“For us, the prices are still sustainable but there is no new tractor on the horizon.’’
Among the buyers was Marc Greening, Injemira Beef Genetics, Book Book, NSW, paying 317c/kg or $1062 for a pen of 43 EU accredited steers, 335kg, from Dale Sullivan, Shallum, Casterton.
Mr Greening will be sourcing 300-400 steers this week plus 600 heifers next week.
“On that price (317c/kg), there is money to be made for the vendor and from my end,’’ Mr Greening said.
“These calves will join the Injemira Advantage program where we buy back calves from our bull buying clients.
“I have all the data on how the Shallum steers performed on our grids last year.’’
Mr Greening said softer markets had resulted in an increased margin, with “more money to play with’’.
“I am looking at 20 per cent down on last year in terms of value of what we pay for steers,’’ he said.
Ray White Emms Mooney livestock agent, Ben Redfern, Molong, bought 90 300-320kg Hereford steers for Bathurst and Blayney steer finishers.
“It was a solid sale today without being stupid,’’ he said.
Greg Storer, Dunorer, Casterton, offered 57 steers, with his top pen weighing 380kg selling for 303c/kg or $1151.
“The calves were weaned five weeks ago, with the weaning weights slightly up,’’ Mr Storer said.
“The Hereford is a good, placid breed and the doing ability is great.
“I sell them as weaners as I don’t have the country to finish heavier cattle.’’
Jeoff and Jill Hortle, Dunrobin, sold 88 steers and were keen to see the impact of the recent fire at Thomas Foods International’s Murray Bridge plant, and widespread rain in NSW on buying trends.
The couple welcomed the new grassfed, 100 per cent content verified Hereford brand, Hereford Boss, as a player in the marketplace.
Dale and Alex Sullivan, Shallum, Casterton, were down slightly in numbers at 92 steers but with similar liveweights as 2016.
“We had a really wet winter and we couldn’t get out a gator out into the paddocks,’’ Dale said.
“The calves were weaned four weeks ago onto hay and silage – they are EU accredited which has given us a 5c/kg premium in the past.
“I know my bloodlines and appreciate quiet, easy handling cattle suited to our country.’’
W & G Lambert, Taronga: 17, EU, 391kg, 307c/kg or $1200
G & S Storer, Dunorer: 12, 380kg, Oak Downs blood, 303c/kg or $1151
I Ross, Trevallas Park: 20, Oak Downs, Kerlson Pines, Melville Park blood, 363kg, 304c/kg or $1148
W & G Lambert, Taronga: 12, EU, 345kg, Taronga blood, 314c/kg or $1083
Elm Grove: 18, Bowmont, Melville Park blood, 363kg, 298c/kg or $1081
W & G Lambert, Taronga: 31, 326kg, 330c/kg or $1075
Shallum: 43, EU, Injemira, Melville Park, Taronga blood, 317c/kg or $1062
K Davis, Sutherland Hills: 18, EU, Yarram Park, 359kg, 291c/kg or $1044
Top View: 18, Russlyn & Taronga blood, 349kg, 293c/kg or $1022
Rosebank: 40, Wilkah blood, 332kg, 311c/kg or $1032
Woranga: 17, EU, Bowmont blood, 354kg, 291c/kg or $1030
Springbank: 14, Erindale blood, 349kg, 293c/kg or $1022
Glencairn: 29, Yarram Park, Bowmont blood, 318kg, 321c/kg or $1020
Woranga: 29, Bowmont blood, 321kg, 313c/kg or $1005
Rosebank: 9, EU, Wilkah blood, 372kg, 294c/kg or $926
Glencairn: 28, 341kg, 330c/kg or $1125; 13, 309kg, 330c/kg or $1020; 12, 306kg, 330c/kg or $1010; 13, 305kg, 330c/kg or $1006
Fairview: 4, 368kg, 305c/kg or $1122
Ian Ross, Trevallas Park, Casterton, was awarded Champion Hereford pen. The pen of Oak Downs, Kerlson Pines and Melville Park blood steers weighed 363kg and sold for 308c/kg or $1118 to Carter Lindsay & Weber, Dubbo.
Brothers, Bill and Geoff Lambert, Taronga, Paschendale, sold the top priced pen of Hereford steers, weighing 325kg and making 330c/kg or $1072 to Alex Scott & Staff at the Casterton annual weaner sale.