South East weaner sellers are set for healthy pay days in the coming two months, with the sensational season adding plenty of weight to calves.
The red hot returns of early in the year may be a distant memory, but many weaners are still expected to make $1000 to $1200.
The Amherst, Moville and Wittalocka circuit sale at Willalooka earlier this month set a strong benchmark with steers making to $1280 and heifers to $1180.
The first Naracoorte weaner sale for the season will have 3700 steers and 1700 heifers offered in two big days, on Thursday and Friday next week.
Mount Gambier combined agents have drawn 3700 cattle for their monthly store sale, including many autumn-drop weaners, on Friday next week.
Elders national livestock manager Chris Howie expects the majority of southern weaners to make $3 a kilogram to $3.30/kg, with repeat buyers chasing some top performing lines harder.
He said there was “no real driver” why prices should lift much higher with the feedlotters and processors “more comfortable” at present rates.
“There is no point paying $3.70/kg for calves if you are only going to get $3/kg at the other end – that price should be the fundamental driver of what you pay,”he said.
“Last year if you bought weaners for $1400-$1500 there were plenty of people who only broke even when selling – having said that it is not a reason not to buy this year.”
Mr Howie said another rain in northern areas may deliver some price upside but interstate buyers would take the 30c/kg-plus freight costs into account.
“The Lower SE and into western Vic is as good as we have seen for feed for a long time but this time of the year they are a net seller of cattle so the step up in the market comes from northern Vic and into NSW buyers,” he said.
Mr Howie said the quality in upcoming sales would again be good, although there may be less heavyweight calves from some areas with the wet winter.
“Weaners will really come on in the next couple of weeks with some sun on their backs, having been four to six weeks behind early in the season,” he said.
Miller Whan & John director Andrew Whan said it had been an exceptional season all the way through to east Gippsland, Vic, and rains in the past fortnight in the Lower SE would prolong green feed.
He expected “good solid local demand”.
“It (The price) is not where it was but people are still selling cattle for handy money,” Mr Whan said. “If they (buyers) want to get good lines of calves, December and January in the SE and western Vic is the time to buy them.”
More weight in DiGiorgio cattle
The DiGiorgio family, Lucindale, will be one of the major vendors at the opening Naracoorte weaner sale with 450 top quality Angus steers and 250 heifers.
It has been an annual tradition for nearly 20 years and has seen them build a great reputation for the performance of their large lines of well-bred, February/March-drop weaners.
“We think we are producing a consistent article and we have buyers consistently coming back because they know what they get and they do well for them,” Nanni DiGiorgio said.
With the sensational season he says their European Union-accredited and Pasturefed Cattle Assurance System eligible calves, bred from bulls from their Sterita Park stud, could be 20 kilograms heavier than 2016.
“The top end will be pushing 400kg – they have really pumped ahead in the last month.”
Last year the DiGiorgios’ steers averaged $1312 and their heifers $1101 and Mr DiGiorgio hopes they can still average $1000 or more.
“It is still good money,” he said. “It is a great time to be involved in agriculture with protein now keenly sought-after.”