Analyst Intel

9 October 2020

ACROSS THE RAILS | Yearling bull orders slow to eventuate

By Suz Bremner

As Winter slides off into the distance, focus for some farmers turns to hitting the spring cattle markets, and throughout Hawke’s B ay stocking up on yearling Friesian bulls is forefront in many minds.

The year has not been an easy one and the best-laid plans have had to be changed, but bull farmers need to keep their systems turning over which means offloading finished or older cattle and bringing in the next round of bulls, so the cogs keep turning.

Most of the trading of yearling Friesian bulls tends to happen outside of the sale yards, and independent agent Phil Hewitt is currently in the thick of it in Hawke’s Bay. He has noted that spring buying orders have been slower to come forward, as paddocks usually earmarked for yearling bulls are being shut up to rebuild depleted supplementary feed, while Wagyu cattle have also been spotted on some of the more traditional bull finishing Hawke’s Bay farms.

Looking back to July, the bull market tracked along its usual path, but the August-September period has been a hard battle.

“We are up against a lack of confidence in the weather and to a lesser though still significant extent the markets. Feed is not springing away and while there are plenty of Friesian bulls on quote, those to buy them are thin on the ground and sticking closely to budgets,” Hewitt said.

Any yearling bulls that are picked up now are to carry-over and North Island quotes are varying from $2.60/kgLW up to $3.20/kg dependent on weight and type, but most are quoted at $3/kg currently. Even this level has proved to be a sticking point for buyers and $2.95/kg has also been tabled.

“Rain and grass growth will turn this market around, but we need both in good volume.” he said.

In contrast, Hewitt says the two-year bull market has been static. 

“We have seen the older bulls around 500kg sit close to the $3/kg mark for weeks on end, but buyers know they will likely have these cattle finished and off their properties by Christmas,” he said.