A SURGE in prime and store cattle prices could be short lived.
The Eastern Young Cattle Indicator has risen 14c/kg in the past week, to close at 327.5c/kg on Monday, as the impact of widespread rain in Queensland and northern NSW flowed through the market.
At Wagga Wagga's prime market on Monday, lightweight yearling steer prices rose 27c/kg, feeder steers were up 18c/kg and grown steers and bullocks were 19c/kg dearer.
In the store market, vendors at last week's Wangaratta weaner sale saw prices lift by 20c/kg as restockers from Queensland and Tasmania entered the market.
But Australian Processor Council chairman David Larkin said northern rain was the major factor pushing up prices.
With markets resuming in northern NSW and Queensland this week, he said prices would soon settle.
"This is the normal market ebb and flow, and there are good underlying reasons," Mr Larkin said. "The market will certainly even out and find its own level."
Yesterday's offerings of 7000 cattle at Roma, 600 grown cattle at Grafton, 1500 at Inverell and 1400 in Warwick would start to flow through the supply chain, reducing the pressure of sourcing stock, he said.
"What we have basically done is push one selling week into another," he said.
Mr Larkin said there were good market signals, including a lot of interest in new markets for Australian beef, albeit at a certain price level.
Elders southern region Scott Altschwager said the logistics of moving cattle after rain in the north had benefited southern producers.
"Some of the big processors have a wide geographical footprint and can shift their processing capacity from the north to the south when they need, and that's probably what we are seeing at the moment," he said. "But we are also starting to get into a period where there are more lighter cattle about, so those who have well finished, quality stock are being rewarded."
Vendors who had sold in the past week exceeded expectations after a tough January selling period.
Peter Nolan from Tarrawingee sold weaners at Wangaratta last week and was prepared to accept as little as $400 for his Angus calves, or about 130c/kg. Instead they made $546, or 176c/kg.
"I couldn't take them home because I had no feed, but this sale was considerably better," he said.