Glenys Shandley of Nerrena considered herself fortunate to have had a pen of cattle sold at last Wednesday’s bumper prime cattle market at Leongatha when prices jumped by as much as 29c per kilogram or upwards of $150 a head.
THE day that South Gippsland beef producers and their agents have been waiting on for months arrived in style last Wednesday when cattle prices at the VLE Leongatha Saleyards jumped by as much as 29c a kilo or $150 a head.
It added upwards of $300,000 to a bumper pay day for battling graziers with the market overall injecting more than $2.7 million into the local economy.
And it was all down to the widespread rains that finally arrived last week in NSW and Queensland, easing a crippling drought, but cutting supplies of stock to northern meat processors.
The result was that a cattle buyer for the huge Wagga Wagga-based export meat processor, Teys Australia, swooped on the best of the export class bullocks from South Gippsland, taking more than 500 of them with him back to NSW.
And there’s every indication he’ll be looking for more with southern Victoria about the only place in Australia with finished export cattle at the moment.
The result was that beef producers lucky enough to have stock among the 2350 export types and 250 young cattle on offer walked away with a handy bonus over the prices being paid in the past month or two.
Others, without cattle in the market said it was disappointing that the price jump came this late in the season.
Alex Scott and Staff representative, Alan Bolding, declared the result to be good for the local economy all the same.
Veteran stockman, David Phelan of Yarram, agreed saying it was the biggest one day improvement in prices he had seen, and that’s saying something.
“We’ve never seen a lift like it from the start of the sale to the finish,” he said.
“I had a pen of 30 Hereford steers to sell on behalf of Ian Turnbull of Yarram right at the end and I was hoping the price would hold up until then. As it turned out, they topped the day at 215 cents a kilogram which was very pleasing. “I rang Ian up last night with the good news and he asked me if I wasn’t trying a couple of weeks ago when I sold the other ones for him!”
Mr Phelan said the same cattle sold two weeks earlier for 180 cents a kilo.
“The other pleasing thing from my point of view is that the cattle were bred in the Yarram area initially, by Walpoles, so it was an all-Yarram result on the day.”
Damien Minogue of Rodwells explained why the sale was so buoyant.
“Geoff Swayn, who is here most weeks buying cattle for Teys, usually for their Naracoorte plant, had a big order he needed to fill for their Wagga operation and he bid strongly on most pens.
“We witnessed very strong and vigorous bidding from the outset with the buyers jumping into it in a way we haven’t seen for a long while.
“We knew this would happen eventually but we just hoped to see it a lot earlier than this.
“I was talking to some people up at Gunnedah during the week and they said they had one of their smallest yardings ever, just 370 head last week, and that’s a big selling centre usually.
“They’ve also had 2 inch or so of rain up at Tamworth and are starting to get some feed at last.
“It’s been terribly tough up there and they probably haven’t got a lot of cattle left anyway but the rain up there will be encouraging them to hang on to what they’ve got.”
It’s supply and demand and South Gippsland is one of the few places left in Australia where there are finished cattle ready to go to the processors.
But with a daily capacity of 1428 head at their Wagga plant and 800 employees to keep in work the 500 cattle Teys took out of Leongatha last week will barely touch the sides and there’s every indication they’ll be back, although nothing’s certain in a free market.
“It was a good feeling yesterday, no doubt, but it’s just a little disappointing we didn’t see the price lifting over the past few months,” Mr Minogue said.
“Don’t get me wrong though, we’ll take it.”
Glenys Shandley of Nerrena was one of those delighted to have had some cattle in last week’s sale.
“I was very pleased yes, but I hope it’s not a one-off,” Mrs Shandley said.
The theme continued on at the store cattle sale at the same venue on Thursday with prices for young cattle, set to be turned out into the paddocks again to get them up to export weight, up by $80 a head.
Elders auctioneer Rohan McRae got into the spirit of the up market, enthusiastically selling the first store pens and also urging the agents and producers to get involved.
“You’ve got to go if you want’em cause I’ve got’em,” he said after they sat back on one mixed pen.
He sold six Angus cattle for J Miller of Nyora, averaging 638kg for $1100, eight Angus stores for the Conroy family averaging 453kg for $805 each and seven for K Clark of Outtrim for $770.
His colleague Michael Foote did a lot of the buying so they’ll be off to Elders’ clients’ farms again.
The good prices continued on through the store pens sold by other agents as well.
All eyes will be on Leongatha next Wednesday, April 9 to see what rates are paid and if the proximity of Easter has any impact on either numbers or price paid.