THERE were a lot of variables at play when a big crowd of local landowners turned out at VLE’s Leongatha Saleyards last Thursday for a big store sale.
In excess of 2750 cattle were on offer; including young steers, heifers, cows, bulls and some cow and calf units, with a feature of the sale being the number of cattle entered from drought-affected areas in East Gippsland and further up the coast as far as Bega.
The wet weather on the day had released farmers from their normal duties, after morning feeding out, but it had also added other elements to the equation; how long will the cattle coming from the dry areas continue to be available, and has the rain arrived in time to stimulate pasture growth locally?
Auctioneer for Landmark in Leongatha, Brian McCormack, agrees producers have a lot of weighing up to do at the moment.
“The good cattle sold well, a bit dearer if anything but there’s a lot of plain cattle available at the moment and the prices there were easier,” Mr McCormack said.
“There’s 500 cattle in here from the Bombala/Bega area alone today where they’ve got no feed or water at the moment. It’s been very tough.
“But they’ve got 3000 cattle at Bairnsdale on Friday so there’s a fair few around at the moment,” he said.
The problem though, is that if the traditional weaner and young cattle suppliers to fatteners in South Gippsland are being forced to sell stock now, rather than in the spring, it could mean there will be fewer numbers later in the year when local producers traditionally want them.
So when do you jump in and buy? How much feed will you have in the paddock and by the bale to feed them through the winter? And what’s going to happen to the price and supply of cattle over the next few weeks?
Plenty of local producers, with grass in the paddock, made their decision last Thursday and took a truckload home.
Lyn and Robert Jarvis of Yarragon were among them.
“We bought some cattle today and we’re pretty happy with what we got. We’ve still got some feed over there,” they said.
They’re in a similar situation to a number of others in South Gippsland, in ‘God’s own country’ was a response from one local, but not far away, off the irrigation in Heyfield for example, the situation is starkly different.
Buying, trading and fattening cattle is a business that’s more complex than it looks at first glance and there were plenty of people working the numbers and the options on a, thankfully, wet day at Koonwarra last Thursday.
Beef producers weigh up their options