The Hereford juggernaut rolled on as the run of Wodonga weaner sales opened with autumn drop steers peaking at 454c/kg and grown steers hitting $1650.
Victorian grass fed steer finishers joined the strong northern buying contingent of lot feeders and backgrounders to push prices up almost 30c/kg on Wednesday’s whiteface sale at Hamilton in Victoria’s western districts.
Vendors at Wodonga celebrated an increase in their sale averages of 100c/kg or $170 a head on in 2016.
Selling agents Elders, Landmark and Corcoran Parker moved the sale along at a cracking pace to clear 5100 grown steers and heifers, and mixed sex weaners across five hours of continuous selling on January 12 2016.
Steers over 350kg sold for 309-392c/kg or $1280-$1650 – a rise of 6c/kg or $70 on Hamilton’s weaner sale.
Steers weighing 250-350kg returned 352-454c/kg or $1110-$1360, jumping 30c/kg on Hamilton.
The lighter weight pens under 250kg averaged 431c/kg or $1075 while Black Baldy steers sold for 348-421c/kg or $1180-$1460 and Hereford cross steers $1350-$1420.
In the heifers, grown unjoined females over 300kg sold for 296-397c/kg or $1070-$1360, and those under 300kg, 304-371c/kg or $960-$1095.
Black Baldy heifers sold for 341-378c/kg or $1085-$1275.
There were too few European Union accredited cattle to quote on.
Cattle sold to Wagga, Stockinbingal, Albury-Wodonga, Khancoban, Dubbo, Finley, Jerilderie, Wangaratta, Tasmania, central and northern NSW.
David Sleigh, Ruffy, accepted the Herefords Australia champion pen award on behalf of his brother, Andrew Sleigh, Jerilderie.
The autumn 2016-drop, Bayunga blood steers, 361kg, sold to Pat Kindellan, Landmark Albury, for $1340 or 361c/kg.
David Sleigh said the family were impressed with the breed’s temperament, doability and fertility.
He said polled bulls were selected on calving ease and 200-day weights.
Judge Ben Davies, Thomas Foods International assistant livestock manager, said the pen was an even line of cattle exhibiting length, carcase, top line and growth for age.
Mr Davies said TFI was fresh from buying 200 EU accredited Hereford weaners from Casterton and Hamilton sales for the company’s Iranda feedlot at Tintinara.
“We were looking for calves over 350kg and paid 350-370c/kg,’’ he said.
“There were only a few EU pens at Wodonga and we encourage Hereford breeders to become accredited.’’
Mr Davies said the overall Hereford yarding was a credit to producer’s breeding programs and pasture management.
Alistair McKoy, Holbrook, topped the heavy grown steers with a Pasturefed Cattle Assurance System eligible pen, 505kg, snapped up for $1650 or 326c/kg by Teys Australia.
In the autumn 2016 drop weaners, the top price pen was sold by J M Hiscock & Sons, Kilmore – the 33 Bowmont and Tarcombe blood steers, 381kg, returned $1370 or 359c/kg.
Topping the market on a cents per kilogram basis was K & L Harris, Mansfield, with their Howquadale blood steers, 10 months, and 253kg, selling for 454c/kg or $1150 to Rod McKenzie, Corcoran Parker.
Mr McKenzie bought the steers on behalf of Khancoban grass fed steer finisher Joan Sinclair.
“There is no point having grass and empty paddocks,’’ Ms Sinclair said.
Rod Potter, Corcoran Parker, Wodonga, bought the second top price pen at 443c/kg or $1135 – the Tondara blood steers, 256kg, were offered by Denis Smith, Brolga Pastoral, Urana, NSW.
Teys Australia bought the third top price pen at 441c/kg ($1185) – nine to 10 month old Rotherfield blood steers, 264kg, from Tony Marchese, Mansfield.
Cecily Trickett, Culcairn, manages the herd for Australia’s oldest living commercial Hereford breeder, Isabel Webb.
Mrs Webb is due to turn 100 in April 2016 and takes an active interest in the herd’s breeding program.
“She loves her Herefords and especially their temperament,’’ Mrs Trickett said.
Cecily was on hand at Wodonga to see Mrs Webb’s draft of 47 eight to nine-month-old steers, Dunoon and Wirruna blood, sell to a top of $1350.
The second pen of 46, weighing 289kg, sold for $1170 or 404c/kg to Jeremy Bell, Southern Riverina Livestock and Property, Finley.
“I was after steers weighing 300-340kg and paid an average of 405c/kg – they will run on station country north of Jerilderie or go into a feedlot,’’ Mr Bell said.
“I buy on weight and price – I don’t want lightweight cattle as they won’t finish in time for the spring.
“They are finished to 500-600kg and the bullock prices before Christmas has given us the confidence to come back again.’’
Nicholas Odewahn, Walla Walla, rates Wodonga as “one of the bigger sales” and offered 47 steers to a top of $1560.
“Our liveweights are up in 2017 with the good season,’’ he said.
“We like the Herefords for their temperament, doing ability and weight gain.’’
Topping the autumn drop Black Baldy steers was Raheen Park, Merrijig with a pen averaging 417kg and EU accredited, returning $1460 or 350c/kg.
David and Vicki McCallum, Tooma, were happy to sell their autumn drop purebred steers to 435c/kg.
This equated to an extra 92c/kg or $170 in their pocket above in 2016.
“I’m moving over to pure Herefords for their docility, performance and weight-for-age,’’ Mr McCallum said.
Willgrow, Balranald, topped the unjoined grown heifers with females aged 24-30 months, 422kg and returning $1360.
Elders Albury livestock manager Matt Tinkler said the sale was supported by central and northern NSW backgrounders and grass finishers.
“The strongest position was the 300-340kg cattle although we saw good feedlot competition on the heavier cattle,’’ Mr Tinkler said.
“That weight range made up to 410-420c/kg while the heavier cattle were 350-390c/kg.
‘That was on par with the Angus sale and the really good lines of Herefords were similar in price.
“We have seen a kick in the EU market and numbers were short.’’
Mr Tinkler said the heifer market was solid, with heavier 400kg feeder heifers making 330c/kg and lighter weights 350-360c/kg.
“The feedlotters and backgrounders are beating the restockers on the heifers,’’ he said.