Analyst Intel

24 July 2020

ACROSS THE RAILS | Feeder calf season kicks off

By Suz Bremner

Despite adverse weather Waikato dairy farmers are into the full swing of calving. That has resulted in a lift in volume at the feeder calf sales, which tend to trickle on most weeks throughout the year, but really change up a gear now.

The feeder calf sales let farmers sell calves to a keen market, with the animals taken on by rearers. Most calves are sold at four to 10-days of age.

PGG Wrightson agent Neil Lyons is the man in the know when it comes to anything feeder calf sale related in Waikato, being heavily involved in the sales, organising, auctioneering or a mix of both at Paeroa, Tirau, Frankton and Te Awamutu. Between those yards, farms from north King Country to Thames Valley are serviced and last year 40,000 calves went through the sale system – all sold under cover and most on sawdust. Lyons reports this past week 2300 passed through the four yards but volume will continue to increase in the next few weeks. “Cows are calving like there is no tomorrow and the calves are getting better as the weather improves. At the moment we are seeing mainly Friesian bulls coming in with a scattering of whiteheads through the pens but those numbers will pick up.”

Lyons says the feeder calf market took off with a hiss and a roar, which is typical. But as supply increases orders are easily filled and recent weather has resulted in a few buyers holding off till it improves, which has meant prices have eased lately. “When you auctioneer so many sales you know who’s who on the buying bench and what they will be targeting. There has been a bit of a settling of prices this week due to the volume and weather. Crossbred calve, Kiwicross in particular, are the hardest to sell as they have a very limited market as older cattle.” Feeder calf reports can be found in the AgriHQ Sale Yard Wrap.