WHEN Injemira Redford J006 Q287 made $160,000 in February, conquering a 35-year-old Hereford breed sales record by almost $40,000, a hot pace was set for the stud selling season ahead.
Now, as the homestretch of that season nears, it is clear momentum has been maintained at Hereford sales throughout the country.
Livestock agents from across Victoria, NSW and Queensland are reporting the double effect of national herd-rebuilding efforts and favourable seasons are inspiring outstanding demand from commercial producers in search of genetics to meet the needs of both the grassfed and grainfed supply chains, and driving exceptional prices in the seedstock market.
Ross Milne, Elders Stud Stock Manager, Hamilton, said bull auctions within his patch – stretching throughout Victoria and south-east South Australia – were reporting high clearance rates and improved sale averages on the 2020 season.
“We noticed northern producers from Queensland and up to the Northern Territory, were showing keen interest, which is a reflection of the national herd rebuilding efforts,” Mr Milne said.
Looking ahead, Mr Milne was confident the remainder of the selling season would continue to have strong results and hinted at the possibility of a further ramp up in the New Year.
“The record price of Injemira Redford at the start of this year will be hard to beat during the rest of the season, but there have been many very strong sales this season and, looking ahead, I think anything is possible for 2022,” he said.
A price highlight in Victoria this season was the sale of Mawarra If Only Q264 for $103,000 to David Lyons, Melville Park Herefords, Vasey, at the Hereford National Show and Sale at Wodonga.
In total, the sale averaged $14,475, to mark a 60 per cent increase on last year’s results.
Across the border in NSW, John Settree, Nutrien Stud Stock Manager – Central NSW, described similar results and declared the season “record-breaking”.
“It was record-breaking in terms of clearance, averages and prices,” Mr Settree said.
“Herefords have always been the kings on grass and this year, everyone has had grass, so we saw the industry turn to the breed.”
A selling trend Mr Settree observed was buyers pursuing low to medium birthweight bulls.
“I think this means producers are chasing that quick explosive growth in the paddock,” Mr Settree said.
“There was also obviously a continued focus on carcass traits, as producers are eager to secure high-performing genetics.”
In Queensland, Grant Daniel Long Studstock Specialist and Auctioneer and Herefords Australia Board Director, Mark Duthie, noticed similar trends, but said Queensland buyers were mostly drawn to the hybrid vigour delivered by the Hereford breed.
“The sales were as strong as I have ever seen them,” Mr Duthie said.
“We have witnessed a swing back to crossbreeding white-faced cattle across tropically adapted breeds.
“In particular, there were a number of producers from large Santa Gertrudis, Droughtmaster and Brahman operations who secured Hereford bulls this season.”
Mr Duthie said Herefords’ ability to perform on both grain and grass was a huge draw for breeding operations given the additional market opportunities presented by this trait.
“The draw of Herefords weight-for-age characteristic, their temperament, and the fact they perform so well on grain and grass makes them suitable for many operations — and this was reflected in the sale results we’ve seen.”
A highlight at Queensland stud auctions included the Talbalba Hereford Sale achieving an average of $15,797 across the 59 bulls offered in August.
The bell ringer was Talbalba Conrad Q086, which was knocked down to brothers Ian Bjorksten, Wandong Herefords, Yeoval, NSW and Daryl Bjorksten, Beralga Herefords, St George, Queensland, for $30,000.
While Mr Settree said the favourable seasons in key production areas across Australia did play a part in the selling trends, he believed the quality of the bulls also influenced prices.
“If you think back to 2019, when these bulls were born, we were in drought, so the fertility, conception and survival rates were pretty ordinary. Therefore, the bulls who made it into the 2021 sale catalogues were the absolute best anyone could offer,” he said.
“Producers really had to choose what their best animals were, and only work with them, as opposed to taking everything forward. Looking at next year’s season, I think we will continue to head along a similar path of strong results.”