Weekly genetics review: Cautiously optimistic mood ahead of Autumn bull sales

Genetics editor Alastair Rayner, 23/01/2024

THE 2024 bull selling year has started, with autumn fixtures already underway with Kandanga Valley Charolais and Charbray sale in Gympie taking place last Saturday.

The first sale in what appears to be a busy few months, Kandanga averaged $7057 for 35 Charolais and Charbray bulls.

The focus of the Autumn sales is generally oriented towards southern Australian production zones. A number of sales already listed with Beef Central will be held in Western Australia, South Australia, Victoria, and southern NSW.

Forecasting the likely trends for the year ahead is often a challenge, and seedstock breeders contacted by Beef Central ahead of this year’s autumn sales were reluctant to go on record with their predictions.

However, across the board the mood of breeders is best described as cautiously optimistic.

Improvements in the cattle market generally, and in particular after strong southern weaner sales have given a boost to confidence levels for the year ahead among both breeders and producers.

Combined with an improved season with rainfall and good growth, it expected this confidence will flow into producers’ bull purchasing decisions for autumn matings in coming weeks.

Ryan Morris

Auctioneer and stud stock consultant Ryan Morris based in Young in Southern NSW suggested there is a more positive mood among commercial beef producers and breeders this year.

“The strong weaner sales and the better season are definitely contributing factors to the optimism among my clients,” he said.

While the optimistic mood is expected to contribute to stronger average sale prices, there is less confidence that prices will undergo any significant shifts in the averages established in 2023.

Without wishing to be identified, two notable southern states breeders both suggested they expect their average returns per bull to be similar to, or slightly above 2023, given the better results their clients obtained at this year’s weaner sales.

Ryan Morris offered the suggestion that many producers would be “competitive, but probably wouldn’t be over-reaching their budgets.

“It is a buyer’s market still, and for producers there are some very good and affordable genetics that will suit most people,” he said.

Listing numbers

Looking more broadly, numbers that have been listed in autumn 2024 catalogues appear to be on par with the last two years.

While the large turnoff of cattle due to seasonal conditions in the second half of 2023 impacted herd numbers, it appears most seedstock producers were prepared to bring through their selected bulls to sale as planned.

This early into 2024, it is difficult to determine how the selloff of cattle last year will impact on buyer behaviour. Observations from seedstock producers vary, with several expecting their clients to want new bulls to replace those sold off last year, while others have told Beef Central, they are “hopeful, but want to wait and see what happens in the next few weeks before they make a prediction on sale performance.”

Performance data

Continued demand from producers for performance data is a common topic among seedstock breeders.

“Commercial producers want to see bulls with performance data and are asking for more,” Beef Central was told.

The breeder making this comment pointed to the recent ABRI Breedplan webinar series that has proven to be in strong demand with commercial breeders and producers.

“Not only are we making sure we have solid EBVs, but we are going to make more use of genomics and single step just to keep that edge,” he said.

This trend was also noted by Ryan Morris and several other agents.

“For many of the smaller commercial producers, as well as the larger ones, they seem to really want to stick with what works for them,” he said.

“I’m hearing many producers saying they will stay with bull breeders they know and with the performance they know works. Performance data helps as does the consistency and predictability of the bull breeders’ cattle.”

While much of the focus in the Autumn Sales is on southern production system, several major multi-vendor sales will take place in Queensland in coming weeks. The optimistic mood among southern producers is shared with those in the north as a result of good seasonal trends through eastern and central Queensland and a stronger cattle market.

There is an expectation among vendors and several agents that upcoming northern autumn bull sales will experience strong support from producers, particularly among those from the more central areas of the state as producers seek to rebuild numbers.

The trends for the Autumn season will emerge in coming weeks, however given the optimistic mood among producers and agents, it’s likely that many seedstock breeders will achieve acceptable or slightly better results than last year.

Given the observations from a number of breeders and agents, proven genetics, and strong performance records will most likely underpin those sales that earn higher averages.


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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