LIKE so many other backgrounders anxiously watching the falling cattle market, John and Loretta Dynan have opted to sell their steers now rather than wait out the summer.
The Dynans background up to 450 head on 181ha near Pyalong for six months each year.
This year they are running 340 head, including 98 Camoola-bred steers bought as weaners at 310kg for an average of $639 or about 206c/kg at Pakenham in August.
Since then, the Camoola steers have gained an average 150kg over 97 days, or an impressive 1.5kg/day, even accounting for 15kg of shrinkage at the time of purchase.
Now, the 50 tops average 480kg and will be trucked to Swift's Tabbita NSW feedlot this week with the seconds to be turned off in January.
At 170c/kg direct to the feedlot - 15c/kg or $60/head less than last year - Mr Dynan said they will only just cover costs.
"But we don't want to take the punt on going through to January to get them all to 500kg-plus and take whatever the price might be then," he said.
Mr Dynan said he believed the secret to surviving short springs and tumbling markets was to buy cattle in June so that come August, bigger cattle could be sold at the seasonal peak in the market.
"We, like most others, mostly buy in late winter though, when the prices are highest and hope the prices don't drop too much in December and January," he said.
Tough markets and seasons highlighted the importance of buying cattle with good doing ability, he said.
"Compensatory gain is what gets you ahead in tough seasons - if things go wrong, you need the type of cattle that can cope and catch up quickly," he said.
Camoola manager Greg Mackay said most buyers were repeat clients who knew the capabilities of the cattle bred at Beveridge.
The steers' performance reinforced his breeding decisions on-farm, he added.
"We've reduced our numbers from 1000 to 750 breeders so we don't have to buy hay," he said.