Weekly genetics review: Bull sales, and prices, both heading north

Genetics Central editor Geoff Phillips, 02/08/2016

THE spring bull sale focus heads north this month, backed by prices that have also ‘headed north’ in what agents are already describing as the strongest Australian bull market ever seen.

In August more than 50 sales are scheduled for New South Wales, and once the Ekka ends on August 15, Queensland sales kick-in with another 20 scheduled for the second half of the month (full details on upcoming sales fixtures can be accessed here).

Agents continue to be bullish about demand and prospects for bulls this spring.

“Queensland is back in play after years of bad seasons,” declared GDL’s Harvey Weyman-Jones after last week’s Texas Angus sale at Warialda, NSW, where 121 bulls averaged $9802 in a 100pc clearance. This was a big lift on the 2015 average of $7229 for 107 bulls.

“Texas had 100 registered buyers and we were still fielding $10,000 bids for the final bulls in the catalogue,” Mr Weyman-Jones said.

Trend to more spring sales in the south

According to Michael Glasser, guest auctioneer at Texas Angus last week, 80pc of the bulls went to Queensland, reflecting exceptionally strong demand from the north which could indicate increased averages for upcoming Queensland sales, driven by the big turnaround in the season.

Michael Glasser

Michael Glasser

Mr Glasser, a southern-based independent auctioneer/agent who will swing the gavel at 36 spring bull sales this year, said he was not seeing any dramatic lift in the number of spring sales in the south, although there are certainly more than years ago when the southern bull market was focused heavily on autumn sales.

Dunoon, Rennylea and Coolana are just some of the southern Angus studs that now hold on-property spring bull sales, in addition to their bigger autumn sale programs.

“One trend is southern studs like Te Mania, Hazledean, Lawsons and Murdeduke taking bulls north to sell in spring, rather than selling them at home,” he said.

Veteran Queensland agent Blake Munro of Elders, who has been in the business for over 40 years, claims he has never seen the market so strong. He thinks it should relate to higher, but not excessive averages in sales this year.

One thing Mr Munro has observed is that bull numbers for sale could be down a bit, and there certainly is not an over-supply of bulls out there.

He also said commercial producers are now ‘more savvy with the facts and figures’ and bulls that were ‘not quite right’ in objective measurement data would not draw demand.

Herd rebuilding demand driver

Landmark’s Colby Ede pointed to herd re-building in Queensland’s western regions as a demand driver at upcoming sales. He also said large-scale Northern Territory and Gulf cattle producers would be out in force, buoyed by recent live export prices. Beef Central’s regular weekly live export price indicator has Indo steers ex Darwin at 345c/kg this week.

“Each week we are seeing higher prices for commercial cattle and along with the season and the prices being paid for live export cattle, we should see strong demand for bulls this year,” Mr Ede said.

He even suggested bulls could be in short supply as the selling season unfolds. “Paddock bull buyers have been very active following herd building, generated by the early rain,” he said.


How closely is price related to Breedplan figures?

Hereford Australia has done some work in an effort to ascertain what traits buyers were seeking, and if good Breedplan figures translated to higher prices in the selling ring.

Dr Alex Ball

Dr Alex Ball

Hereford Australia’s CEO Dr Alex Ball has been massaging the figures from the three major Hereford multi-vendor sales staged so far this year (Wodonga, Dubbo and Glen Innes) where 300 bulls averaged an amazing $9560.

The strongest relationship he found was between price and weight on day of sale. This means the heavier bulls made the most money – probably understandable given the parallel ‘showing’ aspects of these sales.

There was also a moderate relationship between price and 400-day weights and IMF figures. Lower birth weights were also popular in terms of price trends, especially with commercial producers looking for heifer bulls.

Many buyers at these multi-vendor sales are bull breeders looking for specific traits to fine-tune their programs, while commercial producers are relying more on commercial market segment focussed indexes, Dr Ball found.

It would seem commercial buyers are pragmatic with their choices, preferring to use all the tools available including Breedplan figures, indexes and importantly structural soundness.

One trend that pleased Dr Ball was that the commercial industry is looking for moderate cattle with strong carcase attributes along with female functionality.

Genetics Central would like to hear from other breed organisations or individual studs that have produced data that identifies the most valuable traits, in buyers’ views, based on bull prices. Contact us by email here


To access our regularly updated list of recent spring sale results, click here.




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  1. Peter Vincent, 04/08/2016

    The pre-sale subjective assessment of bulls by an astute cattle breeder is often a valuable guide as to the merit of phenotype of a bull. Emphasis on a particular trait is more often an invaluable guide as to the problems currently existing in the astute cattle breeder’s own herd.
    I would be interested to see whether the high price-high live weight correlation was evident in bulls purchased by seed-stock breeders. If so, we still have a way to go in this country.

  2. Don Nicol, 03/08/2016

    If the strongest relationship with price paid for a bull was sale weight on the day, won’t sellers just feed them bigger and fatter-nutritional management – nothing to do with genetics?

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