IT WAS clear from the number of dairy cows which hit the market at the Leongatha VLE Saleyards last Wednesday that concern about the drought in South Gippsland has reached a new low.
Partly due to the Easter long weekend but also because of the extended dry conditions, numbers were up by 2350 head on the previous sale to a total of 2812, with 1300 cows on offer.
The only saving grace, and it’s an important one for on-farm viability, is that prices remained high despite the dramatic increase in numbers, in fact, prices even surged forward by as much as 10¢/kg for cows as buyers competed hard to fill orders.
Prices for the dairy cows were typically in the $1.70 to $1.90 per kg range, but returned a very wide price to producers from a low of $431 for the very poorest examples to $1845 each for two extra big cows, averaging 750kg in weight.
Row-upon-row of dairy cows, in widely varying condition from young cows in good shape, which may simply have failed to get in calf, to old cows verging on a distressed state, were presented for buyer interest.
And the full of buyers were very interested, competing strongly for the big yarding throughout the morning and deep into the afternoon.
“It’s the dry conditions, that lack of feed in the paddock, watre problems for some, the cost and availability of feed and the fear that there won’t be much pasture growth now before winter. That’s what’s driving it,” said one of the agents.
But the buyers weren’t backing off.
“Yes, there are a lot of dairy cows in here today but there’s no problem, we can handle them,” said export buyer Brad Peel.
“They’re all going to export, for grinding beef (hamburgers) and demand at the moment is good.”
Alex Scott stock agent Greg Spargo was concerned about seasonal conditions but pleased that there were at least good prices for the cattle.
“When people have to sell, and we’re seeing individual dairy farmers sending in 30s, 40s and 50s in groups, so you know they are culling hard, you will often see prices going down to the 60c/kg mark but fortunately demand is good.
“But with Tabro still not operating, there aren’t many alternatives to selling them at the saleyards.
“It’s very, very dry and feed is failing. Not just the feed. Water is a problem for many as well. Basically they’ve hit the panic button and decided they’ve got to make a move,” he said.
“The nights are colder and we haven’t got the break we needed. There isn’t much in the paddock and the cost of feeding through is an important issue.
“You can see some of the cattle have been stressed by the conditions but getting $1.40 to $1.70 per kg or above is a reasonable result.
“Export demand is really strong and we hope it stays that way.”
Dairy cows come to market
THERE were approximately 2400 export and 400 young cattle penned representing an increase of 2350 head week-on-week due to the long weekend break.
There was a full field of buyers present and operating in a dearer market.
Quality continued to decline with a large proportion of the yarding lacking finish.
Heavy weight vealers and yearling calves to the trade sold firm with the odd dearer sale for better quality, up to 10c/kg in places.
Grown steers and bullocks improved 3c to 6c/kg.
Heavy weight grown heifers showing good finish lifted 13c/kg.
Heavy weight Friesian and crossbred manufacturing steers gained a few cents.
Most weights and grades were represented in the 1300 cows and competition remained strong despite the high numbers of mainly lean dairy cows.
Cow prices improved from 4c to 9c/kg while the bulls held a large proportion of lighter dairy picks and sold firm.
Heavy weight vealers to butchers sold from 310c to 346c/kg.
Yearling trade steers made between 282c and 325c/kg.
Yearling heifers to the trade sold between 265c and 310c/kg.
Grown steers made from 269c to 302c/kg.
Bullocks sold from 275c to 308c/kg.
Heavy weight grown heifers showing good finish made between 260c and 284c/kg.
Heavy weight Friesian manufacturing steers sold between 216c and 252c with the crossbred portion between 243c and 292c/kg.
Most light and medium weight cows made from 165c to 230c/kg.
Heavy weight cows sold mostly from 198c to 259c after a top of 265c/kg.
Heavy weight bulls made between 250c and 310c/kg for most.
Sale draw for April 6: Landmark, Rodwells, Elders, Alex Scott and Staff, Phelan Henderson and Co, SEJ.
The fortnightly sheep sale will be on April 6 at 12pm.
Leongatha Prime Sale On Wednesday, March 30, 2016
4 Garner FD & AJ Cobains 676.3 307.6 2,080
7 Jones Family Trust Longford 675.0 304.6 2,056
18 GEM-BRAE-AG Lang Lang 625.8 302.0 1,890
10 Dilger BP Jeetho West 657.0 300.6 1,974
7 Seabrook RA & GM Korumburra 715.0 300.6 2,149
17 O’Loughlin Bros Meeniyan 622.9 300.0 1,868
2 Selling M Sale 357.5 346.2 1,237
1 McAlpine KA & JE Leongatha 400.0 343.6 1,374
1 Anderson H Korumburra 365.0 338.6 1,235
3 Selling M Sale 348.3 335.2 1,167
1 Cummaudo GT Mirboo Nth 360.0 330.0 1,188
2 Vening Pastoral Co Hedley 270.0 325.0 877
1 McAlpine KA & JE Leongatha 390.0 343.6 1,340
1 Ahrens HJ Foster 295.0 336.6 992
2 Selling M Sale 362.5 335.2 1,215
1 Clifford PG 2 Loch 305.0 334.2 1,019
1 Cantwell BS LSTK Toora 275.0 324.6 892
1 Shandley HJ & DM Buffalo 325.0 324.6 1,054
1 Dixon A Loch 560.0 345.6 1,935
2 Kelly Neil Longwarry 605.0 264.6 1,600
1 Scott C & D Glen Maggie 680.0 258.6 1,758
1 Mangiafico A & KJ Dumbalk Nth 645.0 256.0 1,651
9 Gippsgraze Pty Ltd Inverloch 635.0 254.6 1,616
8 Crouch R Welshpool 617.5 254.6 1,572
1 Balbo IG & G Yarram 910.0 309.6 2,817
1 Caithness AJ & N Koonwarra 1,040.0 295.6 3,074
1 McCaughan M Pound Creek 895.0 290.0 2,595
1 Kelly G & C Poowong North 870.0 289.6 2,519
1 Jervies LR & EA Foster 715.0 284.6 2,034
1 Vuillerman Past Co Yanakie 825.0 280.0 2,310