STRONG feeder interest pushed prices on heavy-end steers up to $2 a kilogram at the Naracoorte combined agents monthly store cattle sale on Thursday - but those not at feedlot entry weights were considerably cheaper.
The monthly auction continues to draw cattle from across the State with the 1537-head yarding a mix of locally bred, Kangaroo Island and northern-bred cattle from Tibooburra, in western NSW, reflected in the prices.
Landmark Naracoorte's Leigh Warne described the steer market as "fully firm" on Mount Gambier a week earlier.
Thomas Foods International was active buying cattle to put on feed at Wanderibby feedlot at Meningie, as was Princess Royal feedlot at Burra in the 340-kilogram to 440kg weight range. Money was highly variable for the lighter steers.
"The breed told a lot - if they were Angus or black baldy they sold well, but the reds and greys really battled as we have seen for some time," Mr Warne said.
Top price honours at $740 went to Denis and Heather Ludwig, from Stewarts Range, with 10 18-month-old to 20mo Angus. The 366kg steers sold to Princess Royal, equating to $2.02/kg.
Two vendors offered 153 weaners placarded as non-certified PCAS-eligible cattle.
Thomas DeGaris & Clarkson clients Peter Ingerson and Baxters Hill, both from Kingston, were the first in SA to sign a supplier declaration form that their cattle met all the essential elements for the new voluntary grassfed certification scheme, including never being fed grain, and no use of hormone growth promotants or antibiotics.
SA is yet to begin auditing interested producers, but if the buyers of those cattle become registered later the cattle remain eligible to be sold to slaughter as PCAS, attracting a 15 cents a kilogram to 20c/kg premium above the MSA grid price from Teys Australia, which supports the scheme.
TDC Kingston agent Jordan Haines said the coast was a strong breeding area. Those further down the chain should be offered the chance to participate.
"If there is a break in the chain, they lose their PCAS status so we need to be the ones to put this in place for the grass finishers," he said.
Mr Ingerson received $635 for 22 Angus steers weighing 331kg, while his 16 heifers made $540.
Baxters Hill had a well-bred line of Hereford steers which sold to rates equal to Angus, making $1.80-$2.15/kg.
The 81 Bendulla and Snuggery-blood steers reached a $555 high, while the 35 heifers made $470.
Another large draft comprised 200 young Angus steers from Boolringar Station, Lucindale.
They averaged about 190kg and made $340-$350.
The price gap between steers and heifers remained wide as in previous months with many Angus heifers making $1.40-$1.65/kg.
Buyers chased EU-accredited cattle, including the $585 top-price heifers
The top money was paid for 21 Angus from DH Prosser & Son, Marcollat, which weighed 331kg, equating to $1.77/kg.
Their seconds made $555.
For the same money, LR&MB McInness sold 10 Angus heifers and TR Starling, Kingston, received $560 for 13 Angus heifers weighing 335kg.
Mr Warne said Naracoorte was working well as a store sale venue, attracting good quality cattle.
But he would like agents to be more particular with numbers in the draw.
"We advertised for 850 and ended-up with closer to 2000 cattle. We had a couple of orders -one from Port Augusta, one locally and a feedlot order - which was lucky, but it might not have been that easy."
*Full report in Stock Journal, July 25 issue, 2013.