Drought casts its shadow over sale

- If there's a profit to make, he'll buy

DROUGHT in Australia’s north has hurt Border cattle producers, with prices plummeting yesterday at the first of the annual weaner sales at the Wodonga saleyards.

Agents said while the quality of calves at Wodonga was top notch, there were too few motivated buyers.

Myrtleford-based agent for Paull and Scollard, Dan Ivone, said there was no interest from northern NSW and central Queensland, which are in drought.

“It was quieter than normal but that was what we expected, given the conditions,” Mr Ivone said.

About 4200 angus calves were yarded, with steers fetching $1.80 a kilogram and heifers $1.40 to $1.50.

Mr Ivone said in a good market steers would sell at $2 a kilogram and heifers, $1.70.

“A lack of rain up north is the problem,” he said.

“It’s all about supply and demand. And at the moment, there’s an oversupply of cattle.”

Mr Ivone said most buyers were local, from Wodonga to Benalla, with “the odd load” headed to northern Queensland.

It was a disappointing start to the year for breeder John Adams, despite him winning top pen for his cattle.

“We weren’t terribly happy last year, and this year the stock made eight cents a kilo less,” he said.

“The only thing that held us up was that our cattle weighed extremely well due to the favourable conditions in late winter. That, at least, was pleasing.”

Mr Adams, who has run the family property at Staghorn Flat for almost 20 years, said breeders were “stuck between a rock and a hard place”.

“People up north are in tight seasonal conditions and can’t help us out with buying support,” he said.

“But these sales are a fair chunk of our income so if you don’t have a good sale, it makes it a bit tight.”

Yet it was not all doom and gloom as far as Mr Adams was concerned.

“There are indicators things could be good this coming year, we just need good rain for the people in the north to give them encouragement to restock,” he said.

Mr Ivone agreed, saying it would pick up from a slow start, particularly with the export market later in the year.

“There’ll be no fortunes made, but it will be all right,” he said.

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