Slowly but surely the store cattle market is lifting out of the lockdown blues but it has taken a while.
Store cattle have been the slowest class to come back though not all the blame can be put on covid-19. An accumulation of factors such as drought, limited processor space and slow finishing rates have all affected this class but it finally feels like the climb has started and looks set to continue in that vein.
Older store cattle, the R2 and R3 age groups, have over the last few weeks steadily improved though buyers are still being selective. There is still a clear preference for the better-bred lines and anything under 320kg struggles to find an audience with the period to finish too longer-term for many. In the North Island, traditional steers have on average lifted from $2.35-$2.60/kg to $2.70-$2.90/kg with a few managing to push the $3/kg mark if they tick the buyers’ boxes. Beef-dairy steers and more specifically Hereford-Friesian sold for $2.20-$2.30/kg through lockdown and just after, if they could be moved, but have lifted to $2.45-$2.65/kg at recent sales. Heifers are tending to trade 10-20c/kg behind the steers though that is a big improvement, given that during lockdown they struggled to make $2/kg.
Of any class, though, it has been the R2 Friesian bulls that have been the real talking point at the yards. Not that long-ago sellers couldn’t give them away and many had to meet the market at $2-$2.10/kg. But recent sales show a big lift in demand so it now exceeds supply. At Feilding recently prices jumped to $2.65-$2.70/kg for anything 350kg and better.
While it has taken some time the store cattle market is now moving in the right direction for sellers, which is yet another step on the road to recovery.