Weekly genetics review: Bull sales looking good for 2017

Genetics editor Geoff Phillips, 31/01/2017

WELCOME back to our first weekly genetics review for 2017, heralding the start of the nation’s busy autumn bull selling season

The first bull sales in 2017 have continued where they left off last year when over 20,000 bulls sold at auction for an average $7237.

While Western Australia is probably not the most reliable benchmark for the big volume sales to follow in the eastern states, the two sales held in the west in January provided some confidence for what lies ahead back east.

Bull sales in the west have grown in significance recently, with more than 40 listed in Beef Central’s Upcoming Bull Sales calendar.

Landmark’s multi-breed Great Southern bull sale at Mt Barker, WA, cleared 62 out of 63 bulls last week for an average $6145, up 22pc on last year’s average, with Angus selling to $12,500, Charolais to $11,500 and Simmentals to $10,000.

Leon Giglia

Leon Giglia

Recently appointed national livestock manager for Landmark, Leon Giglia, formerly responsible to Landmark’s West Australian livestock activities, said buyers were prepared to search widely for the best genetics and there was genuine interest from both commercial and seedstock producers in the east in what WA has to offer over the next few weeks.

“There has been real interest from the eastern states in West Australia’s Angus, Simmental, Charolais and Red Angus,” he said.

The first single-vendor sale of the year was last week when Lawsons Angus offered and sold 98 bulls from their Hopetoun, WA, base to a top of $15,500 and an average of $7711, up 34pc on their WA average last year.

This was the start of a marathon year of selling for Lawsons, which will offer a total of 540 bulls at sales in three states this year.

This expansion in numbers offered has gained momentum this year. Some on-property auctions that once had catalogues of 50 bulls are now offering upwards of 100 these days.

Many southern studs now have spring sales in addition to their traditional autumn sales, while others transport and market bulls interstate.

An example is Pathfinder Angus which will offer 300 bulls at three upcoming sales in South Australia (February 16) Victoria (February 22) and Queensland (February 24). There are many examples of expansive interstate operations such as Te Mania Angus, Hazledean Angus/Senegus and Palgrove Charolais/Ultrablacks.

Beef Central’s updated list of Upcoming Bull Sales already includes 340 sales for 2017 with 90 of these being held in February alone. More will inevitably be added as the spring sales schedule is finalised. Vendors, agents and others are asked to check the sales dates listed in our summary, and if there are any omissions or errors please email

The Beef Central listings of Upcoming Bull Sales and Recently Completed Sales are the only all states, all breeds, all agents listings compiled in Australia, and provide a handy reference guide for intending bulls buyers.

The increasing number of on-property sales each year has created a real scramble to obtain a date which does not clash with other nearby sales, with studs needing to reserve their space12 months in advance.

The 2017 selling calendar starts in Western Australia (43 sales) followed by South Australia (35) and Victoria (59) with 90 percent of these sales over by the end of April.

New South Wales (120 sales) comprise mainly autumn sales in the south and spring sales in the north. Already there are 100 fixtures listed for Queensland and that number will grow as more northern sales, predominantly held in spring, are booked in.

Angus unsurprisingly lists the most sale fixtures (125 for the year) followed by Herefords with 59 and Charolais with 40.  Santa Gertrudis has 40 sales listed with Droughtmasters and Brahmans each approaching 20 sales, but as described above, these numbers will grow.

The numbers offered at Queensland’s major multi-vendor sales never cease to amaze. An out-of-season February All Breeds Sale at Rockhampton on February 14 and 15 will see 500 bulls from 15 breeds go under the hammer. But the biggest of them all will be Rocky Brahman Week on October 2 to 4 this year, when close to 900 bulls are again expected to be catalogued.

Rise in clearance rates expected

Landmark’s veteran Victorian based stud stock agent Ray Attwell expects the 2017 bull prices to be on a par with 2016 levels, but suggests the clearance rates may be even higher.

Landmark’s Ray Attwell believes bull buyers are now more astute in their selections and will find excellent even lines of bulls at many sales.

Landmark’s Ray Attwell believes bull buyers are now more astute in their selections and will find excellent even lines of bulls at many sales.

“I’d expect sales that cleared 90pc of their bulls at auction in 2016 will lift that clearance to close to 100pc in 2017,” he said.

One noticeable trend over recent years is that buyers are becoming more discerning and are making more astute buying decisions based on a combination of Breedplan figures and structural soundness, according to Mr Attwell, who is in the process of inspecting bulls on offer for the upcoming Victorian bull sales. He said he was impressed by the evenness of the bulls catalogued this year.

He also suggested there may be strong interest from both local and interstate stud breeders for Victoria’s autumn selling season offering.

“If stud breeders identify the style of bull that suits their program, they will travel to get them – and there could be fair demand for stud sires this year,” he said.

Record Angus dispersal

A highlight this autumn will be the 1500-head Coolana Angus and Black Simmental herd dispersal in Victoria, claimed to be the largest dispersal of registered females ever in the nation.

Ross Milne of Elders, the sole agent for the mammoth four day Coolana Angus and Black Simmental dispersal at Chatsworth, Vic, claims the sale will be the biggest auction of registered cattle ever in the nation.

Ross Milne

Ross Milne of sole agent Elders said there was great interest being shown in the four-day event from February 28 to March 3, which starts with the Black Simmental females, includes the annual on-property bull sale and ends with two days of selling 1200 registered Angus females.

Mr Milne said he expected demand for bulls in 2017 to match the exceptional strength of the 2016 market, as cashed-up commercial producers invest in herd improving genetics.

He also suggested that the trend towards southern studs having two sales a year (autumn and spring) to cater for an increasing number of spring-calving herds was continuing, but not necessarily growing.

“Those southern studs with spring bull sales in mind have probably made the move already,” he said.

He also pointed to the additional heifers retained as breeders as herds rebuild driven by better seasons and strong prices for commercial cattle.

“They will need bulls for the increasing female numbers, as herd rebuilding gains momentum” he said.


  • Online advertising opportunities for the autumn bull-selling season are still available on Genetics Central. Contact Rob Hibberd on 0437 870 127, or Sally Inslay on 0419 471 578,




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  1. Michael J. VAIL, 31/01/2017

    Is there available graphics of bull prices against EBV’s?

    On my reckoning, on an NPV basis, a good average bull should be returning to the Stud around $12,000 minimum …

    Not sure how you’ve arrived at your figure, Michael, but certainly there have been some interesting Producer Demonstration Site (PDS) project in the distant past that provided fairly compelling evidence of the financial gain achieved from selecting superior EBV bulls. One we remember was at Birrallee, outside Collinsville in North Qld. It was based only on EBVs for growth (not maternal or carcase merit) using Brahman bulls, and showed quite dramatic weight (and hence profitability) differences between progeny from high/low growth EBV bulls. We’re not aware of any comparisons of bull prices versus EBV figures, but would be keen to hear from stakeholders who can provide information. Our suspicion is that evidence may be easier to find in the south than the north. If we can gather enough info, we’ll ask Geoff to write a column on it. Editor

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