How are this year’s early spring bull sales holding up?

Beef Central, 25/07/2023

AS the end of July approaches, the spring bull sales have settled into a rhythm across eastern Australia. So far, results from the sales reflect early predictions that there would be less exuberance around the sales than in the past two years of extraordinary prices.

Results across a number of sales have thrown up some interesting messages for producers looking to buy bulls, as well as for bull breeders undertaking their final sale preparations for sales yet to come.

Looking across a number of sales conducted in the past four weeks since late June, clearance rates remain very positive.

Most sales held to date have enjoyed clearances in the 90-100 percent range, with only a few exceptions falling below this. The average across a random selection of 16 sales held so far in NSW and Queensland place the clearance rate at 86pc.

Average prices are consistently lower than those experienced in 2022 or 2021, which reflects most observers’ expectations. However it needs to be remembered that prior to 2020, no significant beef breed had recorded a yearly auction average above $10,000, and in 2020 itself, only Brahmans achieved that milestone. Click here to view Beef Central’s annual 2020 bull selling summary.  

To date, with the exception of several large multi-vendor sales, such as the Top of the Range Murray Grey Sale held in Glen Innes, the majority of sales have been conducted on-farm and have been largely represented by the Angus and Hereford breeds.

At the same time, top prices have also been relatively modest in comparison to the last two years of sales. The exception to that was made at the recent Bowen Hereford sale where the offering of Bowen Solomon S009 saw the price of $140,000 offered by Melville Park Herefords from Vasey in Victoria.

The next few weeks is expected to see a significant surge in bull numbers being offered, with many of the larger programs scheduled to hold their sales.

Value in a strong client base

Looking at the results achieved for bulls so far this spring, there are a few take home messages to consider.

The first is for producers in the market for new sires. The easing of clearance rates down from 100pc suggests much stronger competition in sales for those bulls with higher levels of genetic merit.

Producers are targeting these sires as a preference and, with the easing of sale averages are able to secure them at reasonable prices for their programs. Top prices at sales (for those bulls in greatest demand) are still below last year’s values, offering producers a greater chance to secure these elite sires for commercial programs and achieve greater levels of genetic gain as a result.

While sale averages remain above the $11,000 benchmark, there are still a number of sales that have recorded averages below this level. The lower averages are often aligned with lower clearance rates, potentially reflecting lower levels of client engagement.  For breeders attempting to grow or build a client base this is a trend to note.

The sales that appear to date to have enjoyed greater success have a strong client base developed through close contact with previous purchasers, along with a comprehensive marketing campaign highlighting the bulls on offer and their commercial relevance to producers in 2023.

In addition, many of these programs have focused on the quality of bulls offered in order to ensure buyer competition. In some cases this has meant withdrawals of bulls from catalogues in order to keep quality of the draft as high as possible.

Over the course of the next three or four weeks it is possible that sale averages and sale top prices will increase, as some of the prestige prefixes in major breeds hold their fixtures.

However, with a month down in this season’s sales, it appears that any increases are likely to be modest and the best returns will come from those programs with strong client bases.

Upcoming sales in coming days and weeks like Texas Angus, Woonalee Simmentals, Hazeldean Angus and Te Mania Angus will provide a bellwether for this spring’s sale prospects in more southerly parts of the country.

Late August and September will start to reveal the state of play further north into Queensland.

Click here to access Beef Central’s list of upcoming bull sales across Australia, searchable by breed, state and prefix.


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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