AN abundance of grass in regions across SA, Vic and NSW is fuelling the red-hot cattle market, with prices on heifers and heavier steers lifting at Mount Gambier's monthly store sale on Friday last week.
Close to $10 million was paid on Friday, with more than 4500 steers and heifers yarded.
O'Connor and Graney auctioneer Ethan Bronca said there was a lot more 500 kilogram plus steers yarded in this month's market and the prices rose.
"Most of the heavier cattle were on par (with last month's store sale) but the 500kg plus cattle were dearer by $50 to $80," he said.
"It comes down to supply and demand. There's buyers trying to do a shorter-term feed job on those heavier steers to get more supply for end of Summer, early Autumn."
Mr Bronca said the buying gallery included two large commission buyers from NSW, several feedlotters and local buyers looking to put cattle out onto abundant grass.
"The heavier cattle are getting chased by feedlotters, a lot of the good 280-360kg weaners were either being snapped up by locals or going to NSW," he said.
Rates on some of the heavier yearling steers rose by as much as 20 cents a kilogram, with 470kg plus Angus steers generally making $4.90-$5.80/kg.
There wasn't much of a discount on coloured cattle, with those weighing 480kg plus making about $4.80-$5.50.
The majority of Angus weaner steers weighed under 400kg, with those in the 350-410kg range generally receiving $5.80-$6.70/kg, those weighing 300-350kg mostly making about $6.40-$7.10/kg.
The Angus steers weighing 250-300kg realised rates of $7.10-$7.90, with those under 250 kg making in excess of $8/kg.
Coloured cattle weighing 350-400kg generally made $5.70-$6.30/kg, those in the 300-350kg bracket mostly made $6.30-$7/kg, while those under 300kg generally made $7-$7.60/kg, which was up at least 50c on some pens compared to November's market.
Topping the market were 27 Coolana and Sterita Park-blood Angus steers, av 508kg and 18-20 months old, from Benara Pastoral, Mount Gambier, which made $2900 or $5.71/kg.
Receiving impressive dollar a kilogram results was Killarnie, Strathdownie, Vic, which received $2400 or $6.23/kg for 21 Boonaroo-bld Angus steers, av 385kg, and $2370 or $6.68/kg for a further 21 averaging 355kg.
Also selling Boonaroo-bld Angus steers was Bruce's Farm, which made $2420 or $6.21/kg for 15 steers, av 390kg.
Holmes Livestock, Mumbannar, Vic, offered a large run of 250 Angus and Angus/Hereford steers, making $2310 or $6.88/kg for 35 weighing 336kg, $2270 or $7.54/kg for 37 weighing 301kg and $2210 or $7.65/kg for 24 weighing 289kg.
The Hancock family, Avonlea, Mount Gambier, offered 170, 14 to 18-month-old Angus and Angus-cross steers, with their top price of $2830 coming for 50 steers weighing about 500kg.
Receiving $2760 or $5.10/kg for nine 18-20-month-old Hereford and Hereford cross steers, av 541kg, was Old Weroona.
RF Parker, Kingston, sold 17 Bendulla-bld Hereford steers, av 389kg and 12-13 months old, for $2320 or $5.96/kg.
N&EM Fry offered a quality run of nine and ten-month-old Ardno and Kirrwaeena-bld Herefords, with 38 weighing 362kg selling for $2260 or $6.24/kg and 27 weighing 325kg making $2250 or $6.92/kg.
Twenty-one Yoho and Moganvale-bld, nine and ten-month-old Poll Hereford steers, av 276kg, from Laslett Nominees, Allendale, made $2110 or $7.64/kg.
A producer who generally runs 200 to 250 cattle in Dartmoor, Vic, David Spencer bought 35 Angus and Angus/Hereford steers, av 336kg, for $2310 or $6.88/kg from Holmes Livestock.
He said with an abundance of grass on their property and no need to buy in hay, there was still a good margin for grass finishers at current rates.
"With these steers, in 12 months time if the cattle job is in a similar position, we should get $3100 for them," he said.
"There should be a good margin at the other end and I think it's better than when they were cheap.
"If you were buying them for $1100 you were only selling for $1500. We're now buying for $2300 and selling $3100, it can be a bit daunting just because we're not used to these price points yet."
The top-price heifers were six 356kg Angus heifers from ME&JR Vaughan which made $2230 or $6.26/kg.
Mr Bronca said heifers were generally $80-$100 dearer on November's store sale as well.
Knocked down for $2190 or $5.64/kg were 16 2020-drop Angus heifers, av 388kg, from Spring Hill, Canunda, while 13 June/July 2020-drop Angus heifers, av 439kg, from Kumara SE P/L, Mount Gambier, made $2180 or $4.97/kg.
Demanding $2190 or $5.57/kg were nine 393kg Angus heifers from Garrangreena.
Holmes Livestock sold 27 Angus and Angus/Hereford heifers, aged eight to ten months and weighing 320kg, for $2040 or $6.38/kg, with their 20, 291kg heifers of the same description attracting $1970 or $6.77/kg.
Selling lighter Angus heifers were Cadara Pastoral, with their 31 weighing 277kg making $1920 or $6.93/kg while their 34 weighing 224kg demanded $1840 or a whopping $8.21/kg.
BN&RJ McLaren, Kingston, sold a large run of Hereford heifers, with their 36 weighing 345kg making $1950 or $5.65/kg and another 36, av 307kg, making $1890 or $6.16/kg.
Laslett Nominees received $1860 or $6.50/kg for 38 nine and ten-month-old Poll Hereford heifers, av 286kg.
Kerr Family Pastoral Co, Allendale East, sold 29 Angus heifers, av 275kg, for $1910 or $6.95/kg, with Killarnie making $2010 or $6.55/kg for 19 Boonaroo-blood Angus heifers, av 307kg.
Start the day with all the big news in agriculture. Sign up here to receive our daily Stock Journal newsletter.
Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.