Whiteface vendors pocketed an extra $396 a head for heifers and $244 for their steers on average above other British breeds at the 83rd annual Mountain Calf Sales this week.
Held at Benambra, Ensay and Omeo on March 7-8, the Mountain Calf Sales yarded 6418 cattle in the Elders dedicated sales to average $1317.
Whiteface steer prices peaked at Ensay at $2130 and for heifers at $2240.The market was in line with, if not stronger than, other recent sales, recognising that current market conditions are well back on record prices achieved in 2022.
It was the bidding frenzy by restockers for heifers which left vendors smiling with the top price of $2240 eclipsing the steers, resulting in a great outcome for high country producers who had held females back for the two-day event.
The majority of cattle sold to Gippsland, Victoria’s central and north-east, King Island, the Riverina, and South Australia.
Repeat steer finishers did not hold back when it came to bidding on the heavy end.
Typical of those was Romsey finisher Arthur Angliss who has bought the same Shorthorn-Hereford and Hereford lines for the past decade for JBS grass fed programs. He had just turned off his record-breaking priced steers sourced the Ensay sale last year and said even on those prices there was a margin to be gained.
He was quick to reinvest, paying the top whiteface steer price of the whole circuit of $2130 at Ensay for steers to grass finish over winter.
The whiteface offering hit its peak when 1260 Hereford and Hereford cross steers and heifers were sold at Omeo on March 8 for an overall average of $1500.
The Omeo sale averaged $1519 for steers and $1465 for heifers.
This outpaced the steer average of other British breeds at the Omeo sale on March 8 by $244, the heifers by $396 and the overall sale average by $304.
Omeo’s Angus and Black Baldy sale yarded 2556 cattle for an overall average of $1197, a $1275 steer average and $1069 average for the heifers.
A total of 1105 head were offered at Ensay with steers averaging $1437 and heifers $1291.
The overall average for the Elders Benambra Weaner Sale on March 7 was $1184, with steers averaging $1328 and heifers $996.
A total of 1497 mixed sex whiteface cattle were yarded at Benambra.
Donald Betts, Bairnsdale, offered spring drop, milk tooth purebred steers weighing 596kg (full weight) to return an estimated curfewed price of 362c/kg at Hinnomunjie, and milk tooth Shorthorn/Herefords with a full weight of 504kg to return 375c/kg (curfewed).
At Ensay, Craig Lloyd sold 366kg Hereford steers for a curfewed price of 482c/kg.
Barry Newcomen, Ensay, sold EU accredited Hereford steers, autumn drop and 415g, for 461c/kg, 375kg steers for 460c/kg, and 350kg steers for 418c/kg.
Among those buyers sourcing several hundred Hereford steers with known performance in average daily gain off grass and compliance with grid specifications for branded programs was Phil Gledhill, Elders Holbrook.
“We like the Herefords as they do finish with a good fat cover and we tend to get them out a bit earlier so the cattle we are sourcing today are not so much those leggy types but good, long steers with shape to fit the Coles GRAZE program for late winter onwards,” Mr Gledhill said.
“If you want to buy good Herefords you need to go either to the Western District or the High Country for those good runs of Herefords you can put your teeth into.”