CONSISTENT was the word used to describe prices at today's opening weaner steer sale at Hamilton in the Western District.
Bidding rarely moved outside a range of 178-185 cents per kilogram liveweight.
“I’ve never seen bidding as tight as this across an entire yarding before,’’ agent David Powling, from Kerr & Co at Hamilton said.
“Usually if the top heavy steers are making 180c, the lighter calves will make another 10 or 20c/kg more but it hasn’t happened this year.’’
The sale, the first in a fortnight of selling at the centre, comprised 3856 Angus and black baldy steer calves that had been curfewed and weighed, with bidding conducted in cents per kilogram.
The top dollar a head price was $776 for the opening pen of 30 Angus steers from vendor Corra. The steers had been weaned for nine weeks and were the heaviest in the yarding at an average of 429kg and sold for 181c/kg to the T&R Pastoral Company.
This was followed by $749 for the Coffey Partnership’s 31 Angus steers which were European Union accredited, weighed 405kg and sold for 185c/kg – also to T&R.
Overall, about a dozen pens of the top calves returned more than $700 a head.
A highlight of the sale was strong competition between several buyers wanting heavier steers to grain-feed, and these calves tended to make the highest liveweight rates of 180c/kg plus.
Not being discounted for weight proved a bonus for vendors, as the Western District calves are weighing better than expected after a tough winter and short spring.
The average weight of today’s yarding, according to saleyard data, was 338kg a head. This was actually 1kg more compared to the same Independent Agent’s black sale last year.
The highest cent per kilogram price was 193c/kg for a pen of 13 calves sold late in the sale that averaged 250kg, equating to $482.
But it was a rare premium, and few sales went above 186c/kg regardless of weight.
While selling agents were yet to finalise price averages, most believed the sale would have come close to averaging 180c/kg, which at a weight of 338kg, would give a return of around $600 to $610 a head.
The volume buyer was the Sundown Pastoral Company from northern NSW, which bought 500 steers at Hamilton to add to the 300 head it had secured at Casterton earlier in the day.
There was also one load of calves sent to Dalby in Queensland, and a few loads destined for the NSW areas of Walcha, Yass and Bathurst.
However, the big volume NSW orders for lightweight calves haven’t appeared in the Western District so far this New Year, and this was the main reason agents believed there was no c/kg price increases for smaller steers.
“There hasn’t been enough northern buyers to force up the rates for light cattle like in the past,’’ Mr Powling said.
Most vendors, however, were pleased to walk away with returns of $600 to $700 a head for their steers, and took the view that hopefully buyers could return a better profit margin than recent seasons and come back in 12-months time with more money.
“This sale has probably been a bit better than we expected really, but I’m also confident that the buyers will do well out of these cattle,’’ said breeder Roland Cameron, Athlone South, whose feature pen of 151 Angus steers, av weight 353kg, sold for 186c or $656.