UPDATE: RATES were $100 down on last year but few were surprised by Wodonga's opening weaner sale.A lack of widespread rain through spring and early summer, combined with a lacklustre prime market kept rates down.
Buying strength was split between locals, a couple of northern orders to northern NSW and Toowoomba, while commission buyers also took their share without disclosing where they were sending them.
Processors were also active with weaners booked to T&R Pastoral, Westside Meats and Landmark Global Exports also secured a number of pens.
The offering of 4000 Angus cattle topped at $784 for a pen of 428kg Ardrossan blood steers sold by Mark Quilter from Narrandera. Judged the best pen of the day, they worked out at 183c/kg.
The market settled for the general run of steers at $600-$700, making up to 210c/kg for some of the lighter feeder steers, but heavier weights sold below 200c/kg.
Mr Quilter said he was happy with his rate, even though the steers made about $140 less than last year, where he topped the market at $920.
"It was exceptional last year and we probably got paid too much," he said.
"I think that we are happy enough with what we got."
Fellow vendor Ian Seidel from Buckingbong at Narrandera was paid to $680 for his 174 calves, with the balance making $680 up.
"We hoped the tops would make $700 so we are happy," he said.
But Mr Seidel said he was glad to be selling early.
"If this is the top, then what can you expect when big numbers come onto the market in the next couple of weeks," he said.
While most were pleased with steer prices, it was a different story for heifers, which continued their tough run.
Prices settled at 140-150c/kg, with the occasional pen picked by a repeat buyer making 170-180c/kg.
Several pens of better conditioned heifers went to the trade.
One buyer said he was confused by the cheap rates for heifers.
"When you look at a buying grid, you only get paid 10c/kg less for fat heifers yet they are making 30-40c/kg less here," he said.
One of those to take advantage of the cheaper heifer rates was Brendan Abbey from Abco at Yass, NSW.
He bought 300 heifers to fatten for a client in Adelong, NSW.
Lotfeeders were noticeable by their absence.