An update on the spring bull sale market, using a footy analogy  

Genetics editor Alastair Rayner, 15/08/2023

SIMILAR to a good game of footy, the annual bull selling cycle can be divided into quarters.

While the first half in Autumn often sets the tone for the year, the final two quarters in spring are often the periods when the game is won, that most people recall when discussing the season.

In some ways the timing of the annual RNA Brisbane show – the Ekka, underway since Friday  – can be seen as the three-quarter mark, before the final run towards the full-time whistle (or hooter, depending on which code you follow).

The final quarter of bull sales for 2023 will largely focus on northern programs, with only a few sales now left to be conducted in NSW. To stay with the football analogy, the third quarter could be described as having been a solid performance, and has set a base for the final run home, without being too highly contested.

There have been some standouts in the quarter, particularly the resetting of the Australian All Breeds Bull sale price of $360,000 by Texas Angus with their sale of Texas Thunderstruck T383 to Mackas Angus, and last week’s Clunie Range Angus result, where all 183 bulls sold for an average of $19,607. But even that exceptional sale was back more than $5600 on last year. Click here to view Beef Central’s summaries of recently completed bull sales.

July and early August generally see a surge in bull sales and numbers offered. This year in Northern NSW and southern Queensland, just over 2600 bulls have been put up for auction, representing a number of breeds. Back in early July, the average across 16 different prefixes selling early in the spring cycle saw Angus bulls at $12,309 and Herefords $11,603

Six weeks later, the number of spring sales reached 45 and the averages have not moved dramatically away from these early indicators (see below).

It has been noticeable across the sales to date this spring that there is a clear distinction between some higher profile prefixes and the breed average for in clearance rates, sale averages and top sale price.

There has been very strong competition at these sales to secure sires.  Industry observers have suggested in confidence this reflects the seedstock breeders’ reputations as much as it has on the merit of the bulls that were offered.

Those observers, reflecting the views of several agents and breeders also suggested that bull buyers may have originally budgeted for higher averages this year. The point was made that rather than only spending to the current 2023 average, those producers should use their full budget for higher merit sires which may normally have exceeded their price range, but this year could be more attainable.

The final quarter for the 2023 season will bring renewed focus on the numbers of bulls offered to the industry. Most sales with catalogues published have maintained similar numbers to last year, but in contrast, nominations for Rockhampton Brahman Week being staged in early October have actually increased significantly. This year some 938 Brahman bulls have been nominated, up from 883 last year – an increase of 6pc.

While the stability of sale averages and clearances can provide greater certainty for producers considering their sale budgets, it is important not to overlook the importance of prior planning and research ahead of a sale. Although high genetic merit bulls may be more affordable, it is important to remember that if that bull doesn’t suit long term breeding objectives, then he can easily become a very expensive purchase.

Producers should make sure they stay within the criteria for their objectives and purchase wisely within that preplanned framework.

No doubt the final quarter of the selling season will bring a few exciting moments, however it’s unlikely that this season will be as nail-biting as previous years.


Alastair Rayner is the Principal of RaynerAg, an agricultural advisory service based in NSW.  RaynerAg is affiliated with BJA Stock & Station Agents.  He regularly lists and sell cattle for clients as well attending bull sales to support client purchases.  Alastair provides pre-sale selections and classifications for seedstock producers in NSW, Qld, and Victoria.  He can be contacted here or through his website










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