SOUTHEAST Australia's autumn bull-selling season has opened with a bang.
After a stellar run last year, vendors have again capitalised on strong commercial demand through improved averages.
To date, the top price for young sires has been $30,000 paid at the Bowmont Hereford sale at Tatyoon.
Most studs have recorded total, or near total, clearances.
Leading the charge was Pathfinder Angus stud, which sold 124 bulls at Naracoorte.
The sale averaged $6380, up from $5771 last year and 72 per cent higher than the $3700 average in 2010. Pathfinder will sell another draft of 100 bulls at Penshurt today.
Stud principal Nick Moyle said last week's sale was rewarding.
"We had strong repeat clientele, but the beef outlook is pretty positive," Mr Moyle said. "It's nice to get a good return, but it is all about the clients and when they are making good money (for selling cattle) they can pay good money for bulls."
Fellow Angus breeder Shane Foster said he had been "pretty nervous" before last week's offering of his Boonaroo Angus bulls at Casterton.
But all 58 of the sires offered were sold, for an average of $6040, up $1560 on last year.
"We've seen some bull buyers who haven't been active come back into the market this year," Mr Foster said. While sale offerings so far have been dominated by Angus, other breeds are also doing well.
The Lindsay and Kelso Murray Grey studs at Casterton sold all 30 of the bulls it offered, with the average up more than $100.
The run of big clearances and high prices gives weight to predictions made by Meat and Livestock Australia that cattle breeders are rebuilding herds.
MLA believes the Australian cattle herd will increase 4.1 per cent in the 12 months to June this year to 30 million.
It would be the first time the cattle herd has been this big since 1976. Key sales this week include Injermira Poll Herefords at Wagga Wagga, Dunoon Angus at Holbrook, South Boorook Herefords at Mortlake and Ardno Herefords at Wingeel.