Vendors were all smiles as the opening sale hit unchartered waters for whiteface yearling steers of $3060 and weaners of $2500 at the Benambra Calf Sale.
Victorian and NSW steer finishers and lot feeders converged on the Victorian high country on Tuesday to bid for whiteface cattle at the 82nd annual circuit opener.
Selling agents Sharp Fullgrabe and Nutrien Ag yarded 1260 yearling and weaner Hereford, Hereford cross, Angus and Euro steers and heifers for the fixture at the Hinnomunjie yards.
Buyers attended from Warragul, Leongatha, Packenham, Korrumburra, Wangaratta, Albury-Wodonga, Holbrook, Mossvale, Tamworth and local districts.
For steer finishers who recently made a tidy profit on steers they picked up at last year’s sale, the squeeze was on as prices soared another $600 to historic highs for the vendor bred offering.
Heavy yearling steers, spring drop 2020, sold for $2760-$3060 – a rise of $670 on last year.
The overall run of autumn drop Hereford steers topped at $2500 and sold down to $1530.
Black baldy steers returned $1910-$2310.
In the heifer pens, spring drop 2020 Hereford/Shorthorn females sold for $2530, and autumn drop Hereford heifers for $1490-$2210 – up $540 on last year.
Sharp Fullgrabe principal Graeme Fullgrabe, Bairnsdale, said the sale was well supported by buyers from Queensland, NSW and Victoria.
“The middle run was a couple of hundred dollars dearer than previous years – they were fantastic,” Mr Fullgrabe said.
“The season has brought the quality out in the cattle. There was more confidence in the buying today – last year they didn’t know what they were going to do.
“They now know what it costs to feed them, grass and grain is about and they’ve done their sums – grassfed cattle are a great brand for Australian beef.”
Nutrien Ag Solutions Packenham auctioneer Anthony Delaney judged the Herefords Australia champion pen, awarding it to Gus and Sandra Crisp, Omeo, for their 10-11-month-old steers, Mawarra and Newcomen blood.
The champion pen made $2500 to Gippsland steer finished Alan Mitchell, the top price in the run of autumn drop steers and a new record for the Hinnomunjie saleyard.
Mr Mitchell was buying steers 350kg liveweight plus for grass programs with a carcase spec of 420kg.
Anthony Delaney said the steers exhibited plenty of bone, growth, evenness.
He said the widespread rain had injected confidence into the cattle market, particularly central and east Gippsland experiencing one of the best seasons seen for many years.
Bairnsdale livestock carrier Donald Betts opened the sale with his pen of spring 2020 drop Hereford/Shorthorn steers penned with a green weight of 632kg to be snapped up by Elders Korrumburra for $3060 (484c/kg), and the seconds at $2760. The steers were Karoonda Park, Yarram Park and Nunniong blood.
“I like the extra milk and growth of the Hereford/Shorthorn – in the last 12 months I have bought 70 roan heifers to either grow out to 400kg or join to keep,” Mr Betts said.
After topping at $2390 last year, he was anticipating prices to jump by $500 but was not expecting the rise to be $670.
In the females, Donald Betts topped the sale with spring drop Shorthorn/Hereford heifers, Yarram Park and Karoonda blood, at $2530, while Gus and Sandra Crisp sold the top pen of autumn drop Hereford heifers at $2210 to Dan Ivone, Paull and Scollard Nutrien, Albury-Wodonga.
In the run of black baldy steers, JCM Farms topped the sale at $2310, and as a comparison Angus steers topped at $2400.
Aiden Keyte and Eddie Mauger, Bindi, sold August 2021 drop black baldy steers and like the hybrid vigour and doability of the two-way cross but are aiming to eventually breed a pure Hereford.
Normally a lead vendor, Jim Pendergast, Penderscourt, Hinnomunjie, was in the buyer’s seat paying $2350 and $2450 for two pens of Hereford steers after selling Hereford/Shorthorn cows and calves at Bairnsdale for over $4500 in recent months.
The middle run of steers was dominated by Marc Greening, Injemira Genetics, Book Book, NSW, sourcing cattle for grass fed programs to a top of $2180, while Albury commission buyer Graeme Ward was active in the heifer purchasing for feedlots.
Vendor Robert Moon, Gelantipy, described the sale as “hard to believe” after selling 45 April/May drop, Karoonda Park blood steers to $2100.
Mr Moon said the big kick in averages would mean the ability to direct drill more pasture and invest in fertiliser and pasture.
D Betts: 12, Hereford/Shorthorn, milk teeth, 632kg, $3060
G & S Crisp: 16, Hereford, $2500
P & S Soutter: 21, Hereford, $2450
A Fitzgerald: 15, Hereford, $2400
G & L Troake: 7, Hereford, $2370
BS Dyer: 10, Hereford, $2280
Ray and Max Pendergast: 14, Hereford, $2240
R & R Gilmore: 11, Hereford, $2200
R Moon: 21, Hereford, $2100
JCM Farms: 10, $2310; 10, $2170
L & S Pendergast: 25, $2180; 25, $2110
A & E Farms: 11, $2130
D Betts: 10, Hereford/Shorthorn, spring 2020 drop, $2530
G & S Crisp: 14, Hereford, $2210
A L Fitzgerald: 16, Hereford and H/S, $1900
G & L Troake: 10, Hereford, $1810
R Moon: 7, Hereford, $1810
BS Dyer: 17, Hereford, $1800
G & S Sinnott: 8, Hereford, $1740