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On the Land

15 December, 2021

Price surge continues through final sale

THE Mareeba Saleyards ended their selling season on a high last week.

By Sally Turley

After a record year, the fi nal cattle sale for 2021 was held at Mareeba Saleyards last Tursday.

Their run of spectacular sale results continued unabated, smashing a raft of newly established records from the previous week, in their final livestock sale of 2021. 

With the Eastern Young Cattle Indicator threatening to achieve 1150c/kg in the near future after a record high of 1147.28c for young cattle sold through Dalby and Roma store sales early last week, cattle prices have moved into unchartered waters more than 355c/kg above where the market was this time last year. 

In an unprecedented, unimaginable run, new saleyard records have been repeatedly set, demolished and reset across every livestock category, often on a back to back basis, throughout the year, creating a market that has outperformed every projected maximum and still failed to find its limit. 

Demand created by tightening supply of young stock in southern Queensland and into New South Wales has maintained northern buying pressure, to reset saleyard records in multiple categories. 

Yearling steers achieved a gob-smacking 826.2c/kg in Mareeba last week, yearling bulls sold at a colossal 799.2c/kg, yearling heifers for an amazing 705c/kg and heifers reached an incredible 628.2c/kg. These prices were almost double what was paid at the first sale of the year when Greg and Carol Ryan's weaner steers made a record 456.2c/kg and their heifers reset the bar at 438.2c/kg. 

Overall, last week's sale averaged 520.83c/kg and $1342.99/hd across a total yarding of 1726 head including 47 which sold at open auction. After breaking the record for the highest grossing sale of all time four times during the year, prices and volumes peaked at the September 21 sale which put through 2648 head to gross $2,557,104. 

In their individual categories, store heifer and store mickey bulls set 12 new records at sales during the year, store steers, broke existing records on 10 occasions and meatworks ox raised the bar a total of six times, while cow/calf units climbed to a new high of $3,000. 

Saleyard representative Jayne Hogarth said they were still selling, penning and auctioning cattle until nearly 5pm on Tuesday, creating enough paperwork to keep them working in the office until almost midnight. 

She said Tuesday's figures increased the yard’s throughput total to 60,182 head for the year and said saleyard staff had weighed more cattle in the five and a bit months from 1 July until 7 December, than during the entire year of 2020. 

Elders Mareeba Branch Manager, Livestock Agent and Auctioneer, Mark Peters said he had never seen anything like what has occurred in the cattle industry this year in his 30 years of operation as a Mareeba agent.

“The consistently high demand for cattle and the consequent surge in prices has produced a growth in confidence in our market place. Virtually no animals are unsaleable in this market and vendors are more willing to come forward and engage with our selling system.” 

The back to back poor seasons in the south prior to 2020 combined with the promise of a La Nina for the 2022 season had created a reverse domino effect in the market place. 

Grassed up producers have been scrambling for market share to stock their properties and since they cannot fi nd them at home, have accepted the need to shop further and further afield for cattle. 

“We haven't been seeing the mid-year price hiccup typically generated by the prewinter sell down market glut. Extremely favourable market conditions have sparked a widespread herd cleanup and consequently there has been a large reduction in the tail we saw in the northern cattle herd 10 years ago,” Mr Peters said. 

Vendors taking the opportunity to sell down younger stock in this buoyant market could produce a bit of a “skinny” patch in the early 2022 buying landscape, but at this stage Mr Peters believes everything is positive.

“Quality cattle will always attract a premium and surprisingly cattle just keep coming week after week,” he said.

Cashed up cattle producers injecting money into all those property improvements, repairs and replacements they have been dreaming of for years means Tableland rural support industries are also flourishing.

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