Buyers were met with some of the best line-ups of vendor bred, one mark whiteface weaner calves in the nation for the final leg of the 83rd annual Mountain Calf Sales at Omeo, with steers hitting $2090 and heifers $2050.
Restockers made a plunge on the Hereford heifers, with prices reflecting the high quality of the offering.
Selling agents Elders Omeo and Bairnsdale yarded 1500 Hereford and Shorthorn/Hereford cross yearling and mixed sex weaners for the March 8 fixture.
The sale finalised two days of selling where 7000 cattle were offered at Hinnomunjie, Benambra, Ensay and Omeo.
A large crowd of backgrounders, steer finishers, lot feeders and restockers attended the Omeo leg from Leongatha, Warragul, Orbost, Bunyip, Korrumburra, Euroa, Bendigo, Kilmore, Yea, Albury-Wodonga, Holbrook, Moss Vale and Burra, SA.
Autumn drop Hereford steers sold for $980-$1910, while spring drop purebred steers returned $1850-$2090, and Shorthorn/Hereford autumn drop steers finished at $1010-$1880.
Shorthorn/Hereford heifers finished the sale circuit at $1100-$1930 while the purebred autumn drop heifers settled at $760-$2050.
The sale opened on the spring drop 2021 calves of Betts and Noonan with the pen of 11 Herefords snapped up by SEJ Leongatha for $2090.
Then it was onto the autumn drop 2022 Herefords with the top price of $1910 shared between vendors Peter and Christine Faithfull, Omeo, and Simon and Sonya Lawlor, Omeo.
It was a back-to-back win for Simon and Sonya Lawlor, Omeo, for the Herefords Australia champion pen after taking the sash in 2022.
Their 35 April/May drop weaned steers were given the nod by judge Pat Cleary, Elders Cleary McDowell, Moss Vale, for their length, evenness, and temperament.
Gippsland steer finisher Graeme Osborne outlaid $1910 for the pen. Princess Royal feedlot, Burra, SA, paid $1910 for a pen of 32 Herefords offered by Peter and Christine Faithfull.
The couple went on to top the heifers with a pen of 23 Herefords making $2050 to Delaney Livestock and Property.
Pat Cleary was buying cattle for Willinga Park, an operation owned by entrepreneur Terry Snow, requiring 340-380kg steers to fit a grass-fed supermarket program. Mr Cleary purchased over 300 steers to average $1588 and at an estimated 410-420c/kg.
Brendan and Tracey Ah Sam, Omeo, topped the Shorthorn/Hereford heifers with a pen of 19 making $1930, after setting a record price of $2900 for females in 2022.
The family offered 111 April/May drop Hereford and Shorthorn/Herefords steers to $1870.
“I don’t think we will ever see those prices again – we were able to invest in the business with new shedding, machinery and bulls from Valley Vista. We did fork out a bit more for bulls to put the new genetics back in,” Brendan said.
“We should work on our averages over a few years as you can’t expect to get premiums like last year every year otherwise not everyone is getting a piece of the pie.”
Alan and Noeline Smith, Omeo, topped the Shorthorn/Hereford steers with a pen of 17 at $1880 to Graeme Osborne.
David Hill, Elders Omeo, quoted the middle run of steers at $1600-$1750 to predominantly Gippsland buyers with excellent feedlot support.
“With the top heifers over $2000, around two thirds returned to breeding programs and one third into grass programs,” Mr Hill said.
“Breeders were dominant on the heavier end of the heifers and the lot feeders ran out of weight.
“These events are not only good for the livestock producers from their income basis but also for these communities with the catering, accommodation and hotels.
Anthony Delaney, Delaney Livestock and Property, Bunyip, is a return buyer for the Hereford temperament, weight gain and performance off grass.
“Different clients have different specifications with one in particular wanting the heavier end to go into some intensive fattening programs with irrigation and supplementary silage, while another client will grow out the cattle in the Yarra Valley,” Mr Delaney said.
“For that job we buy them small and grow them out over winter, spring and autumn next year.
“The heifers are for Glen Goulburn Poll Herefords who sells them as PTIC females.”
Mr Delaney was chasing steers weighing close to 400kg.
“The prices are good for both the seller and the buyer with enough in it for everyone,” he said.
“What we saw on the first day was a lot more spring drop calves and lighter younger end selling to cheaper rates. We missed those northern NSW buyers who normally are putting numbers together.”
Mr Delaney sourced around 500 head out of the Mountain Calf Sales.
“The Giippslanders are starting to get the bullocks out of the way now so there is room to put younger cattle on. The last couple of years we have been spoilt with the autumn growth but this year is a typical drier autumn going from too wet to too dry – it’s still a terrific season all round however.”
Among those buying cattle for grass fed programs was Marc Greening, Injemira Beef Genetics, Book Book, NSW, with over 300 steers.
“We were targeting the heavier end to give us a shorter turn over than what we normally do,” Mr Greening said.
“With the uncertainty of the season, it is an insurance policy to have cattle that won’t take as long to get to target weights.
“There were discerning buyers over the last two days – the sales of the better quality cattle made more money.
“Depending on the quality and past performance of the cattle we went up to $1850 for those high 300kg steers.”
Mr Greening said the majority of cattle he purchased at last year’s Mountain Calf Sales had been processed but with the wet seasonal conditions 40 per cent were remaining.
“The margins are pretty much exactly the same as last year of around $700 on a contracted supermarket price, it’s just less of an outlay,” he said.
“I don’t understand why the market is where it is, the fundamentals of the industry are so good with a low dollar, the herd rebuild not as high as thought and the season is good.
“It’s raining in the US so I look forward to seeing what that will do on that 90CL price which drive the over the hooks price for cows as that always takes a lead on the market.
“Through industry experience, the impact of the BSE case in Brazil will take five to six weeks to filter through as there is already meat processed and on its way to China.”
Betts & Noonan: 11, Hereford, $2090
CW Scott & Co: 13, Hereford, $1910
P & C Faithfull: 32, Hereford, $1910
S & S Lawlor: 35, Hereford, $1910
A & N Smith: 24, Shorthorn/Hereford, $1880
Ah Sam & Co: 20, Shorthorn/Hereford, $1870
Batty & Valentin: 14, Hereford, $1850
L& G Lee: 22, Hereford, $1760
P & C Faithfull: 23, Hereford, $2050
Ah Sam & Co: 19, Shorthorn/Hereford, $1930
Betts & Noonan: 10, Hereford, $1850
A & N Smith/Betty & Valentin: 11, Shorthorn/Hereford, $1810
S & S Lawlor: 22, Hereford, $1500
L & G Lee: 20, Shorthorn/Hereford, $1470
Ah Sam & Co: 18, Hereford, $1460