SOME of the best quality cattle seen in many seasons are expected to be on offer at the opening Naracoorte weaner steer and heifer sales this week, according to South East livestock agents.
High prices are also expected to reflect cattle being in very forward condition.
About 4500 steers will be yarded today and 2500 heifers will be offered on Friday at the Naracoorte Regional Livestock Exchange, with saleyard manager Richard James saying SE vendors targeted the "premium" sale.
"Cattle condition will be fantastic - the SE has had a great season and a lot of large runs of weighty cattle will be offered," he said.
Mr James said an increased yarding of cattle was expected at weaner sales held in the new year because recent rainfall had allowed SE producers to "hang onto cattle" for longer.
Prices will be up there, but I do not see the cattle job getting dearer than what it presently is.
Two-day weaner and heifer sales will be held on January 9-10 and January 23-24, with a breeder sale also held on Thursday, January 16.
"We expect cattle condition to hold up well, but whether or not it rains up north will determine if restockers are active at the new year sales," he said.
Landmark Naracoorte livestock manager Brendan Fitzgerald said expectations at the opening sale were high.
"Prices will be up there, but I do not see the cattle job getting dearer than what it presently is," he said.
"Doing ability since the last rain in the SE has put a lot of guts into the feed, so cattle have done extremely well."
Black steers are expected to make $3.20 a kilogram to $3.40/kg, but "exceptional" types should be higher, according to Mr Fitzgerald.
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Coloured cattle should make $2.85-$3.10/kg and heifers should range from $2.50-$2.85/kg.
"But demand could be down in the new year because of decreased support from drought-affected producers in southern NSW," Mr Fitzgerald said.
Thomas De Garis & Clarkson Penola agent Darren Maney said large lines of Angus and Angus-cross cattle offered at this week's sale were "outstanding quality".
"Top-end females will be bought for breeding purposes, but because a lot of young cows have already been bought from NSW's New England area into the SE, I expect demand to be subdued," he said.
"The drought should not impact the sales, but Lower SE fatteners will most likely dominate bidding."
Elders Naracoorte branch manager Tom Dennis said cattle prices would be firm when compared with last year's sale.
"There will be quality European Union-accredited Angus and Simmental cattle being offered and heifers will be sought after as potential breeders," he said.
James family targets elite cattle sale
THE James family at Lucindale will offer one of the largest runs of Angus cattle at Naracoorte's Christmas steer and heifer sale this week, opting to sell all of their 2019-drop calves at the feature sale.
Jim James said despite the South East having a "good year", a lack of rainfall had impacted spring feed growth and therefore he would not retain calves to be sold at SE cattle markets in the new year.
"We have sold all calves at the opening sale for the past few years, because it is fair to say that last season, the opening sale achieved higher prices and we also do not have the feed to stack a bit more weight on the calves for later markets," he said.
"To get the feed, our country needs to get wet in winter."
The James family will offer 700 February/March-drop Cooranga-blood Angus steers and about 100 February/March-drop Speckle Park steers.
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Mr James said the steers had grown out "reasonably well".
"In the past, we had bred heavier calves, but we are still really happy because for us, it has been a drier-than-average year," he said.
It will be the second time the family has sold Speckle Park steers at the sale.
"We have been joining Speckle Park bulls to Angus heifers for a couple of years and this year, the calves have good hybrid vigour and shape," Mr James said.
At Naracoorte's female sale on Friday, the James family will also offer about 400 March-drop Cooranga-blood Angus heifers.
"The females have grown very well and will suit pretty much anyone buying at the sale - they will join well next year," Mr James said.
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