South eastern Australian steer finishers converged on the Victorian high country on Tuesday to bid to $1030 for whiteface cattle at the circuit opener, the Benambra Calf Sale.
Selling agents Sharp Fullgrabe yarded 1600 yearling and weaner Hereford, Hereford cross, Angus and Euro steers and heifers for the March 12 sale at the Hinnomunjie yards.
Buyers attended from Alexandra, Warragul, Leongatha, Bairnsdale, Corryong, Myrtleford, Albury-Wodonga, Tasmania and local districts.
Vendors had rounded down their expectations on the back of a second failed spring and water shortages but were caught unawares by the sharp downturn on the lighterweight cattle, with some electing to return them to the paddock.
The overall run of Hereford yearling and weaner steers topped at $1010 and sold down to $300.
The Hereford-Shorthorn cross steers sold for $380-$1030.
Black baldy steers returned $470-$750 and the middle run of Angus steers made $560-$600.
As a comparison, the Elders Omeo Angus and Angus cross sale tracked at similar rates, topping at $1010 for purebreds and $910 for black baldies.
In the heifer pens, Hereford females sold for $310-$605, black baldies for $375-$520 and Shorthorn-Hereford cross females finished at $400-$500.
Sharp Fullgrabe principal Graeme Fullgrabe, Bairnsdale, quoted the top end steers at 250-260c/kg, the lighter end at 190-200c/kg and the heifers at 160-220c/kg.
“Every day in this store market at the moment is harder and harder – we can see it dropping back in the next week or so,’’ Mr Fullgrabe said.
“It’s a bit cheaper than Bairnsdale but it’s nothing that a big rain won’t fix.
“A few pens of the straight Hereford heifers went to an export order.
“All those smaller cattle need backgrounding feed and no one has that so they are the ones most affected.’’
South Gippsland steer finisher Robert Findlay, Leongatha, judged the Herefords Australia champion pen, awarding it to Peter Soutter, Benambra.
Mr Findlay said the Basford and Karoonda blood steers were well grown, quiet, even, weaned and had plenty of length and bone.
Peter Soutter said liveweights were down 30-40kg after a second failed spring and half the annual rainfall in 2018.
The champion pen made the top purebred steer price of $1010 and were bought by SEJ Leongatha.
Topping the sale overall was Jim Pendergast, Penderscourt, Hinnomunjie, with a pen of 31 Shorthorn/Hereford cross steers, May-June 2018 drop, selling for $1030 to repeat buyer Paul Pendergast, Benambra.
Jim listed a green weight for the Yavenvale and Rosstulla blood steers of 345kg to give an estimated curfewed selling price of 314c/kg.
“These calves have had no supplementary feed but water is a problem – the creek on Penderscourt has been dry for a month,’’ Mr Pendergast said.
“My May-June drop calves sold last year for $1170 and they were 26kg heavier.’’
Paul Pendergast has bought the Penderscourt steers for 11 years in a row and recently sold grown steers for $1770 to Greenhams Gippsland, Moe, and older heavy grown steers to average $2000 and top at $2300.
Tablelands Pastoral Company topped the heifer pens with a pen of 16 Herefords making $605 to Wagga commission buyer Andrew Lowe.
Alex Scott & Staff, Warragul, snapped up the top price black baldy pen at $750 for 20 steers offered by D F Olsson.
Brian Dyer, Benambra, sold 23 Sugarloaf Creek and Karoonda blood Hereford steers for $960 to SEJ Leongatha.
“It was more than I expected as the calves did it tough this winter,’’ Mr Dyer said.
“I have fed out 400-500 bales of hay to over 200 breeders – I still have 160 weaner calves at home.’’
South Gippsland steer finisher Alan Mitchell, Wonthaggi, said quality steers had sold well on the back of solid demand for the top end cattle.
“The prices then dropped off for the seconds and thirds – this has happened in the last fortnight as there is no feed,’’ Mr Mitchell said.
“Everyone is cautious as it doesn’t look like it will rain.
“I have just weaned nearly 400 calves of my own and don’t need more weaners to feed.’’
Justin Costello, Costello Rural Corryong, bought 50 steers out of the sale for $560-$740 for Upper Murray steer finishers.
“I’m after steers 230-330kg for putting away – there are quality calves here,’’ he said.
King Island steer finisher Ian Lester bought 66 Hereford steers for a Tasmanian buyer.
“The cattle were buyable today and we are after the heavier end at 350-400kg,’’ he said.
Penderscourt: 31 Shorthorn/Herefords, Yavenvale and Rosstulla blood, May-June drop, 345kg (green weight), $1030
P & M Soutter: 25, Herefords, $1010
B Dyer: 23, Herefords, $960
R & H Bowman: 22 Shorthorn/Herefords, $870
L & S Pendergast: 24, Herefords and Shorthorn/Herefords, $790
G & L Troake: 14, Herefords, $780
A Fitzgerald: 20, Herefords, $770
D F Olsson: 20, black baldies, $750
Ray & Max Pendergast: 14, Herefords, $740
Tablelands Pastoral: 8 Herefords, $660
Vic Falls, Cobungra: 12, black baldies, $660
R & M Johnston: 20, Herefords, $610
JCM Farms: 23, black baldies, $570
Tablelands Pastoral: 16, Herefords, $605
Tulloch Ard Top: 21, Herefords, $560
K Gabriel: 8, Herefords, $550
JCM Farms: 20, black baldies, $480
L & S Pendergast: 12, black baldies, $460
D F Olsson: 11, black baldies, $460