STORE cattle prices defied a record yarding and flat prime market at Ballarat today.
Heavy grown bullocks sold to a top of $1080 and averaged 175-180c/kg , while the best of the last year's autumn-drop Angus weaner steers sold to $830 or 207c/kg.
The yarding of 4447 head included 1800 yearling and grown steers.
Charles Stewart Ballarat livestock manager Mick Madden said he couldn't recall a bigger store yarding in his 35 years at Ballarat.
Nearly 200 of the grown steers were heavier than 550kg and prompted suggestions prior to the sale they should have been sold at the fat markets.
But keen competition from T&R Pastoral's Steve Chapman and Herd's Nigel Vince plus bidding from South Gippsland buyers ensured the steers prices remained on a par with the fat market.
Mr Chapman kept his bids around 175c-177c/kg for the heavier 550-600kg steers.
But the keen competition for the grown steers masked poor returns or at least unprofitable margins for those who bought these steers as weaners for fattening a year ago.
Charlie and Vince Stella from Wallace were among those resigned to the weak market for the older cattle.
The Stellas yarded 280 grown steers ranging in weights from 508kg to 626kg which according to Charlie were bought this time last year for between $700-$800.
It was a different scenario in the weaner pens where commission buyers acting for NSW restockers provided extra competition to keep prices equal to the January Hamilton rates.
J Simpson and Sons from Joel Joel topped the Angus pens at $830 or 207c/kg for 26 400kg February-March drop steers.
Linn Frame from Vite Vite North topped the Euro cross weaner steers at $825 or 203c/kg for 16 406kg Simmental-Shorthorn cross steers.
Mr Frame was more than pleased with his prices.
"We were only $75 down on our top price for 417kg steers at this sale last year, whereas our heifer prices from last week's sale were back $150."
Angus weaners, 350-400kg sold from 210-215c/kg, while 300-350kg steers sold from 215c-225c/kg.
On the really light steers very few sold for less than $600.