Analyst Intel

4 February 2019

ACROSS THE RAILS: Hot, dry weather brings caution to store cattle markets

And so here we find ourselves at the start of February already. Kids are heading back to school, summer has finally arrived and January feels like it never happened. I always feel January is a little bit non-existent and it certainly has been for the regular sales, with numbers generally low thanks to great grass covers. But it has by no means been quiet for special sales with plenty of action at dairy-beef weaner fairs, breeding ewe fairs and on-farm sales.

Sales have got away with reasonable prices for another week but the grass market that vendors have come to enjoy is now on borrowed time, especially if this heatwave is not followed by decent rain to replenish pastures. Already there is talk of drought in some areas and caution is sneaking into the rostrums around the sale yards.

Through the regular store cattle sales we’ve seen vendors take the opportunity to offload their lesser beasts. Until now anything and everything have had higher values on their heads, relative to type. That has been common at yards across the country and has meant sales have been a real mix of mainly dairy-cross cattle. The better-quality cattle have been staying at home, enjoying the fresh tucker and adding more weight to their frames.

Dairy-beef weaner fairs have been a regular occurrence to the calendar since September. This is one market that has benefitted significantly from the grass market, which has brought extra buyers in and allowed others to take on more than usual. Prices are buttoning off now though that is hardly surprising considering the sheer volume of calves that have been traded. Until last week and since September Frankton has held weekly sales and has put through 17,000 weaners alone.

Beef weaner buyers will now be starting to preserve feed for the extra mouths they will be looking to take on once the weaner fairs kick off in March.