Widespread rain in the eastern states in the past few weeks proved a gamechanger on the opening day of the Christmas weaner sales in Naracoorte with prices at least $300-$400 better than some early predictions.
Many vendors had been bracing for rates to be in the doldrums but in the TDC Livestock & Property, Nutrien and SAL offering the 2368 steers averaged $1110 and 866 heifers averaged $850.
There was tremendous weight for age in the draft with many of the top calves tipping the scales from 400kg to 430kg and finding feedlot demand.
Many of the medium weight calves had a long ride ahead of them with orders from as fat afield as Gippsland, Vic and into southern NSW.
Several local agents also noted it was the first time they had seen Brisbane based Australian Country Choice operate at the yards.
The outstanding draft of 650 Angus steers and 250 heifers from S&R DiGiorgio & Sons, Lucindale, was one of the sale's highlights producing both the top price steers and heifers in dollars a head.
Buyers took the opportunity to put together large lines of the February/March drops bred from their own Sterita Park bulls.
One of the DiGiorgios' heaviest pens, weighing 449.23kg, made $3.15/kg, selling to Princess Royal feedlot at Burra for or $1415.
Three pens of their heifers, all around 335kg made $3.10/kg selling to Nutrien Deniliquin but the highest price heifers in dollars a head were 17 377.94kg which sold as future breeders. They were bought by Nampara Pastoral Company for $2.54/kg or $960.
Princess Royal Station was very strong on many of the EU eligible weaners with their tally also including the first two pens of the sale from Carcoola, Lucindale, both at $3.20/kg.
The first 20 Weeran and Landfall bld steers were 410.2kg making $1312, while another 20 which were 410.25kg made $1313.
Kanangra Props, Furner received $3.18/kg or $1368 for 21 Black Simmental-Angus steers which weighed 427.38kg. The March/April drops which were weaned sold to Princess Royal.
Another 20 of Kanangra Props' Woonallee and Nampara bloods, 404.5kg, made $1254.
Another volume vendor SA&GE Smith, Lakala, Lucindale, was well rewarded for their 383 Angus, black baldy and Hereford-Simmental steers which reached a $1286 high.
These 23 steers had just cracked 400kg and sold to Merrett Pastoral, Penola through TDC Livestock & Property.
TDC auctioneer Matt Treglown said the sale was a lot better than what they may have expected a month ago.
"It wasn't all that long ago that we would have been over the moon with our calves making $3/kg- only last month they were making $2.20/kg," he said.
TDC's Hayden Lambert said there was a 20c/kg premium for weaned calves and even more in places. He said the run of steers was a "long way" in front of heifers quality wise with many vendors holding onto their heifers until January sales.
"I thought the heifer job was going to be a bit better but the general run of those heifers were $2.40/kg to $2.60/kg for classy types and then the lighter, smaller pens you were back to a couple of bucks (per kilo," he said.
Nutrien Naracoorte auctioneer Brendan Fitzgerald said the rain of the past few weeks had "cemented confidence" back in the job and had come at the "perfect time" for the weaner sales.
"Before the sale I was hoping to be $2.80/kg to $3.20/kg (for steers) and it was right in the ball park at that," he said.
"We were looking into next year predicting and we were in no man's land as to whether it would be early next year or but it (rain) has changed it all of a sudden."
Day two of the Christmas calf sale will feature about 3000 steers and heifers yarded by Elders, while PPHS will hold its own sale on December 14.
MORE TO COME