UP AND down the eastern seaboard of Australia, well into the backblocks of NSW and Queensland, they’ve had a good run of rain and the grass is as high as your waist along the roadsides and in the paddocks.
But what you won’t see, in many of the grazing paddocks, is cattle.
“In many areas, it’s going to take them two and a half years before they can start turning cattle off again,” said Jason Ronalds, a buyer for the big meat processor JBS.
“We’re adapting to the situation as best we can but supply is very short.”
He was chatting with Nutrien agents Stuart Jenkin and Terry Ginnane at last week’s well-attended Leongatha store cattle sale.
Partly due to the excellent quality of the young cattle, but mostly as a result of supply and demand, prices continued to move higher.
It didn’t hurt that the rain was pelting down on the saleyards roof.
“The fundamentals are a very strong, short supply and strong demand,” said Terry Ginnane.
“And you don’t always get the situation where the season is very good, and the prices are equally good.
“Of course, no one can say for sure when things might change but with the rain they’ve continued to receive up north, the demand for young cattle isn’t going to ease up any time soon, you wouldn’t think.”
But it’s a dilemma that most beef producers are facing at the moment, cost versus return, according to Damien Minogue of Elders.
“The cattle are dear, no doubt, but in the end, they’ve got grass in the paddock and money in the bank not earning very much,” said Damien.
“Most people are saying that while the feed is there, they’ll at least be able to grow the young cattle out, with the hope of a reasonable return.”
All agree on one thing, the offering of cattle at the fortnightly store sale at Leongatha was excellent, with cattle looking fresh and well-grown, benefitting not only from the feed in the paddock and the rain but also a nice run of warm weather to boost growth.
Veteran stock agent David Phelan said the good conditions extended right through to Yarram where some good falls of rain recently had kept everyone happy.
Sharon Kelly of J&S Kelly at Korumburra was delighted with the price her two pens of well-bred Angus weaners made.
“We sell them as weaners 8-10 months or grow them out to 15 months depending on the prices but we’re just about to calve soon, so we thought this would be a good time.”
It was. A pen of 10 Harris Farms/Woodland Springs bred weaners, averaging 315kg sold for $1640, topping the $5 per kg mark – an excellent return – but also a good opportunity for the buyer looking to turnaround well-bred Angus cattle quickly.
Some of the cattle on offer came from central and east Gippsland but there were good supplies of local store cattle, including an excellent draft of cattle from a couple of Sandy Point beef producers.