Dry conditions evaporate cattle sale confidence
THE crowd at the Sarina cattle sale thinned only slightly when the rain started to fall.
This was what the farmers had been waiting for.
"The rains are on their way - at least I hope. We all hope," Mount Martin grazier Trevor Lyons said.
Like many of the 60 cattle producers watching the auction on Tuesday, Mr Lyons said he was waiting for the dry season to end before he brought his cattle to market.
The past two Sarina sales were cancelled by Landmark Mackay, and Mr Lyons said the dry conditions had evaporated buyer enthusiasm.
But the return of rain would bring a wave of new hardships for drought-affected farmers The Leap grazier Steve Robertson said.
"They're going to be looking to restock in the hundreds. With the premium prices it's going to be tough," Mr Robertson said.
He said the demand for female cattle would be extraordinary.
The October update to the Meat and Livestock Australia industry projections reported an "unprecedented" slaughter of cows and heifers across the country.
"On a 12 month rolling basis, the female percentage of adult slaughter stands at 54 per cent, as the turn-off of breeding stock remains at an unprecedented level, ultimately leading to fewer calves," it warned.
Concerned by the female cattle scarcity, Ilbilbie resident Dave Staines said he was shocked by the price of weaner heifers, which ranged from $320 - $490.
"I can't think why the female cattle are so cheap," Mr Staines said "with the shortage of the female cattle you would think they would be more dear."
Mia Mia grazier Tony Bennett said quality was the reason behind some of the lower prices, as many of the cattle at the auction appeared "drought affected".
Mr Bennett pointed at a pen of brahman cross steers he suspected were weaned off their mother too early, likely out of desperation.
While the higher quality steers sold for as much as $1350, Landmark Mackay reported the "lighter, plainer types" fetched cheaper prices.
Sarina Market Report
Provided by Landmark Mackay
Landmark yarded 130 steers, 90 heifers, 15 cows and calves and 10 micks, for a total of 245 head.
A gallery of buyers competed on a generally good quality yarding. All grades met strong competition, with some lighter, plainer types showing slightly cheaper trends.
Older Steers No. 7s and 8s $720 - $1350
Weaner Steers No. 9s $350 - $540
Older Heifers No. 7s and 8s $500 - $1030
Weaner Heifers No. 9s $320 - $490
Cows and Calves $870 - $990
Harris Investments, Bowen, sold crossbred No. 8 steers for $875
Seven Mile Brahmans, Gargett, sold Brahman cows and calves for $990 and No. 8 Brahman heifers for $1030
Rodney Stokes, Bloomsbury, sold 20 Brangus No. 9 weaner steers for $520