16 FEB 2024

Around the grounds: Weaner Sales

2024 is off to a cracking start already, with commercial livestock prices firming and high quality yardings on display at sales across Australia.  Read on for an update on this year’s weaner sales in each state from Elders livestock managers.

Victoria and Riverina 

Entering our third week of sales, we had a strong showing of 4,300 weaner cattle at Yea, for the Blue Ribbon Weaner Sale in January. This was made up of predominately black cattle, 95 per cent all weaned. This has been the strongest sale so far in Victoria, and it’s only continuing to get stronger as confidence improves in the market. The continued rain has certainly helped, and we’re seeing buyers from northern New South Wales and Queensland involved in recent sales here in the south.  

We’ve seen some amazing prices in this particular sale, with quality black weaner steers fetching between 380 to 420 cents per kilogram.  

As we head back to more conventional weekly and fortnightly weaner sales, we’re seeing a lot of positivity in the market with processing prices on the move and the cow job trending upward which is a great barometer. Feedlotters are back in the market looking for cattle as a result of the processing price improvements.  

We expect to see continued positive results in 2024, as we look to forget 2023 and a year that was heavily driven by fear of an impending El Nino. Onwards and upwards for 2024!  - Peter Homann, Elders National Livestock Manager and Victoria/Riverina Livestock Manager.  


Central Queensland Special Weaner and Feeder Sale, Gracemere 

The Central Queensland (CQ) Special Weaner and Feeder Sale will be held on 3 June 2024 at the CQ Livestock Exchange.  

The sale will be an opportunity to buy among the best lines of weaners Central Queensland has to offer. Local producers see value in standing their weaners up alongside 3000 to 5000 other quality weaners, drawing a larger buying panel than our weekly sales.  

Biloela and Emerald also have special weaner sales the same week, allowing buyers from further afield to string together several sales with combined numbers up to 15,000 head on offer.  

I believe with the season we are having in Central Queensland, demand will be very strong for younger cattle for the remainder of 2024.  

Gracemere CQLX also has a 2nd weaner feeder sale on Monday 1 July 2024. - Morty Wilson, Elders Territory Sales Manager, Rockhampton.

Emerald Combined Agents Weaner and Feeder Sales 

Late rain in the 2023 season has provided a strong start within the cattle market across Queensland, while also being helped along by ongoing rain events throughout and into the new year. A great start to the Central Queensland season has formed, however without further follow up rain the seasons chances of falling short in the spring will increase the supply of cattle, therefore an influx of livestock hitting the market will see a negative correction in prices. Although still quite a while a way, strong numbers and quality cattle are to be expected for the ‘Emerald Combined Agents Weaner & Feeder sales’ which are to be held once a month in June, July and August, with a lot of graziers aligning there weaning dates to match these big sales. Weather prevailing the expectation of solid results as previous year’s sales have shown anywhere from 20-40c/kg dearer at the weaner and feeder sales, whether the season is good or bad. - Beau White, Elders Territory Sales Manager, Emerald.

Dalby Weaner and Feeder Sale 

The Dalby Weaner and Feeder Sale will be held on 19 April 2024 at the Dalby Saleyards. 

With the current rain events over spring and summer, which have seen most areas in southern Queensland receive average to above average falls, we will see good buyer confidence over the coming months. Further falls over the next two months will see plenty of oats planted, keeping up the demand for store cattle.  

I would expect the next month to see less numbers come forward with good feed to hold on cattle and put weight on. This should see the market remain strong for the two to three months. - Ashley Loveday, Elders Livestock Manager, Dalby

Western Australia 

Weaner sales in the southern parts of the state started off in November, running through until February. We came into a market where the season was exceptionally dry in Western Australia and all our weaner sales were booked out from November right through to mid-January. Vendors put all their weaners in the sale in one hit, rather than staggering it as they typically would, due to the season being so dry and consequently hay and feed being so expensive. Everyone wanted to sell off all in one hit. Because of the reduction in weaners post February, any leftover will end up going back into the store sales. 

In regard to pricing, when the weaner sales started in November, the prices were exceptionally low with lighter cattle from 200 to 320 kg being the hardest hit. Cattle 330 kg and above were receiving better prices due to the fact that the feedlotters could go directly into their feedlots and did not have to background these cattle as they had to do in previous years. 

The graziers who normally buy the cattle out of the early weaner sales have been holding back due to the costs of feeding these cattle in the summer months and are more likely to come back into the market when rain is received. 

Prices increasing slightly in December and January has created a bit of positivity within the WA cattle industry and has provided more confidence going forward. - Michael Longford, Elders WA Commercial Cattle Manager.

South Australia

Weaner selling season in the southern end of South Australia between December and January saw an excess of 26,000 weaner cattle offered through saleyards at Mount Gambier, Naracoorte and Strathalbyn by repeat and new vendors. It was pleasing to see calves on offer as forward and heavy, weighing from 330 to 340 kg after tough conditions in the lead up to selling season.

The December sales followed trends, seeing a rise of the cattle price with most categories of weight very similar in price. Black cattle achieved a slight premium for coat colour, while EU Accredited cattle achieved a small premium and weaned calves were very keenly sought. Steers principally sold at rates from 280 to310 cents per kilogram for calves that were 340 kg upward, with black cattle generally 10 cents in front of colours, while 300 to 330 kg steers hovering between 290 and 310 and the few sub 300 kg steers offered exceeding 320 to 330 cents.

Heifers with breeding, weight and style were in high demand as future breeders at rates similar to that offered and paid for their brothers, while the lesser and lighter types sold at rates from 240 to260 cents per kg. Generally, the interest for the December calves both steers and heifers was principally southern driven with a greater percentage of the yarding’s staying closer to home than previous years with only selected purchasers heading to the eastern states. 

In January, consistent rates were observed in all categories, with increased interest from eastern state and feeder buyers driving competition in the market. Overall, the rates achieved in early January were 20 cents per kg higher than previous sales. Quality heifers with good breeding attracted demand from graziers, while feeders showed dominance in purchasing heavier calves. The latter part of January saw calf sales finishing strong, reflecting growing confidence in the market. Feeder enquiries continued to rise, with multiple buyers competing for cattle against grass feeders. Eastern state buyers emerged as strong supporters and competitors in the market. 

In February, the majority of steer yarding in Strathalbyn, Naracoorte, and Mount Gambier sold at rates ranging from 320 to 360 cents per kg. The sub 300 kg steers fetched rates above 360 or 380 cents per kg, with black coated cattle receiving a 10 to 15 cent premium. The best heifers matched the rates of their steer counterparts, while most heifers were priced 40 cents per kg lower. Buyers showed a preference for weaned cattle, offering a minimum of 20 cents per kg more for properly yard-weaned calves. Health protocols and EU Accreditation attracted grass fatteners and grain feeders, resulting in EU calves being sought at rates 10 to 30 cents per kg higher than non-EU. 

While rainfall and increased demand for cattle created a solid platform in which to market weaner cattle, it was a pleasure to see pen upon pen of well-presented and properly managed calves yarded at all venues. We congratulate our vendors for their professionalism and for entrusting Elders with the opportunity to work with and market their cattle. Thank you also to all bidders and underbidders for their support throughout the weaner selling season. - Laryn Gogel, Elders State Livestock Manager, southern South Australia