Bumper season after big wet

Colin Jones, Bill Wyndham & Co, sold this pen of Hereford steers from Glenshiel, Butchers Ridge, at $810 during the Bairnsdale store sale a fortnight ago.SOME Gippsland producers say the past year has been the best in 20 years, while others say it has been the best year they can remember.
Nanjing Night Net

While producers across the region enjoy a bumper season, Colin Jones, Bill Wyndham & Co Bairnsdale, is encouraged about having a spring “for a change”.

“I can’t remember a start as good as this one,” he said.

Parts of East Gippsland were under water with a number of cattle held over for the early opening of East Gippsland’s spring sales in August.

Mr Jones said the current market was a fraction dearer than in August.

“Young females have got quite a bit dearer,” he said.

“The season is good, so producers are looking to restock.”

Similarly, South Gippsland farmers are looking to restock as the grass really starts to grow.

After one of the wettest winters across the region’s south, most areas have dried out since late winter, according to Alex Dixon, Elders Korumburra.

“It was one of the wettest winters people have experienced and one of the longest, wettest periods,” he said.

The wet winter saw a flux in cattle numbers through the yards, which Mr Dixon expects to taper off over the next few months.

“Spring has really hit in parts of South Gippsland and the grass is growing rapidly,” he said.

“We had 250 head less cattle at the market (last week) than we did a fortnight ago.”

Mr Dixon said the numbers were down as the pressure from the wet winter forced producers to lighten the load throughout the winter months.

However with the longer, warmer days and extra feed about, it is expected cattle will now fatten quickly.

“I’d say a lot of the prime cattle will be finished by Christmas or the end of January, regardless of prices,” Mr Dixon said.

“Cattle are putting the extra weight on really quickly at the moment.”

While the peak selling season for prime cattle in South Gippsland is from mid-February to mid-March, it is expected to run later next year.

“Because of the extra rainfall, the cattle haven’t got going as early and are just starting to put weight on now,” Mr Dixon said.

All grades of cattle are making good money, according to Mr Dixon, who expects store cattle prices to remain firm or get dearer, as numbers are harder to find.

“Normally, history shows after Melbourne Cup, prices get a bit cheaper because of the extra supply on the market and people wanting to buy trade cattle before the hay and holiday season,” he said.

“But there will be a lot of people wanting cattle, especially now the grass is getting away. A lot of farmers, particularly absentee farmers, are calling saying they can’t believe how much the grass has grown.”

Bullocks are making up to 195 cents a kilogram for 700-kilogram beasts, while the best vealers are making $750-$900 a head or about 260c/kg.

“People aren’t prepared to brace themselves and pay the price and are prepared for longer projects and choose to rear calves,” Mr Dixon said.

However with dairy farmers opting to put a Friesian bull over their Friesian herds for the dairy export market, demand for Angus-Friesian and black baldy calves is high, with week-old calves fetching up to $750/hd.

“The cattle industry is looking very good,” Mr Dixon said.

“If you asked me what looks the best buying at the moment I’d suggest beef cows and calves.

“They’re still a sensible price considering what heifers and steers are making.

“Paying $1200-$1400 for cows and calves looks like considerably better buying than paying $800 for steers.”

Mr Dixon said although labour intensive, producers were at least able to add value.

“It is horses for courses, but it you were an experienced farmer and wanted cattle, then cows and calves seem better buying for me,” he said.

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