Monday, February 26, 2024

Good grass bolsters condition and demand

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With plenty of positivity around, top quality cattle were rewarded with premiums in the year’s first sales.
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Good grass growth has been the key to the success of early 2024 sales, as stock have come forward in very good condition after enjoying the bounty that the silly season provided. 

And on the other side of the coin, grass-driven demand has added more competition to the markets, providing very positive atmospheres at sales both in the yards and on farm.

In the first week of sales for 2024, several yards opted to delay the start of the selling year as farmers were under no pressure to offload, and most sales kicked off from January 8. However, for those involved with the Te Kuiti saleyards, this is one of the busiest times of year as the annual bullock and 15-month fairs are held. 

This year there were more cattle yarded than expected as more farmers opted to farm with these fairs in mind. A total of 4250 cattle was offered at Te Kuiti over five sale days, followed by a sheep sale to finish the marathon effort off. 

There was plenty of positivity in the marketplace. Top quality cattle were rewarded with premiums, though all classes had an audience. Most of the buyers came from local farms in King Country, and there was outside demand from Waikato and Manawatū. 

Bullocks led the charge on Wednesday, January 3 and top Angus steers traded up to $3.27/kg, while $2.85-$3.12/kg was common across the most beef and dairy-beef lines.

Exceptional growth rates for 15-month steers meant some Simmental-cross steers posted weights up to 514-572kg and these sold for $3.08-$3.11/kg. Lighter lines of exotic steers were able to push up to $3.30-$3.45/kg while Angus proved their popularity, as top cuts reached $3.66-$3.84/kg and second and third cuts, $3.40-$3.65/kg. 

The strength flowed into the dairy-beef steer sale as heavier lines made $3.11-$3.37/kg and lighter lines pushed up to $3.63/kg. Heifers finished off the fairs on Tuesday, January 9 and the strength did not waver as top Angus reached $3.10-$3.19/kg and lighter Angus and Hereford-Friesian made $3.20-$3.33/kg. 

A good crowd of buyers and spectators enjoyed the hospitality provided at the Puketoro Station on-farm sale.

On-farm sales have also had ewe and lamb buyers heading out to the paddocks in the South Island; and inland from Tokomaru Bay, Tairāwhiti, for the eighth annual Puketoro Station sale. 

Central Livestock auctioneer Shane Scott said this sale once again had everything going for it.

 “The weather was picture perfect, the stock was presented in very good condition and a good number of buyers and onlookers were in attendance – some for the stock, some for the hospitality and most for both.” 

On offer were 39 Angus cows and calves, 738 15-month Angus steers, 2400 2-tooth Coopdale and Romdale ewes and 2650 5-year Romdale and Coopworth ewes. 

A large percentage of the lines sold to regular buyers, with some travelling from as far as Manawatū to soak up the atmosphere and buy in-person. 

The cows and calves sold for $1520 per unit, while steers traded at $1220-$1500 with most making $3.48-$3.54/kg. Steers sold to Tairāwhiti, Central Plateau and Hawke’s Bay. Ewe sales were strong as the 2-tooth Coopdale made $159-$167 and Romdale, $164-$172. 

Scott said the sale of the day was the top line of 5-year Romdale ewes, which consisted of just over 1840-head and sold to Manawatū for $139 with the balance at $86-$98.

Finally, North Island ewe fairs are also an early starter in the new year. Results have been above expectations for sellers as grass-driven demand and loyalty to the stock class provide a buffer on the lower mutton and lamb schedules plaguing this season. 

Just over 12,000 ewes were offered at Stortford Lodge on Tuesday, January 9, and 2-tooth Romney averaged $169 while 5-year ewes averaged $122. A line of 2-tooth Wiltshire ewes had an exceptional sale at $332.

This article was written by AgriHQ analyst Suz Bremner. Suz leads the AgriHQ LivestockEye team, including data collectors who are tasked with being on the ground at sale yards throughout the country. Subscribe to AgriHQ reports here.

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