DRIVEN by the rain-fuelled boom in cattle prices, cattle numbers offered on AuctionsPlus have hit an all-time record this week, as vendors seek to cash-in on buyer momentum.
Commercial cattle offerings on the national online marketing platform today have hit 17,800 head, easily eclipsing the previous record of 14,500 head set during the middle of the drought turnoff in April last year.
This week’s record tally includes listings in both the weekly weaner and yearling sale (13,622 head – in itself an all-time record), and 4200 in the Eastern States sale, populated mostly by breeding cattle and replacements. The figure does include about 180 re-offers from sales the week before, but recent sales have recorded extremely high clearances around 95pc due to high buyer demand.
To put this week’s AuctionsPlus volume record into some context, the largest-ever weekly sale reported at the nation’s largest physical saleyards was a little over 14,000 head at Queensland’s Roma saleyards in April 2014.
EYCI crashes through 700c/kg
The Eastern Young Cattle Indicator continued its spectacular 2020 rise this week, crashing through the 700c/kg dressed weight equivalent) barrier yesterday, to reaching 701.75c/kg.
That price has lifted another 40c/kg in the past week, and is up more than 153c/kg since this time in January. This time last year, the EYCI indicator was more than 252c behind yesterday’s figure.
AuctionsPlus operations manager Tom Rookyard told Beef Central yesterday that the past two weeks had delivered some ‘fantastic’ prices to vendors, with 550-580c/kg liveweight not at all uncommon for weaner steers.
“Prices like that have definitely contributed to flushing this week’s record offering numbers out,” he said.
“The market has been on a steady, and in places dramatic upwards trend mid-January, and especially so since rain arrived.”
Biggest supply region for this week’s record weaner and yearling sales are Western Queensland with 2900 head, including some large runs of +100 and +200 head from individual vendors, mostly backgrounder steers and heifers. Southeast Queensland has also contributed a large offering, with 2200 head including good lines of feeder cattle in today’s sale.
From NSW, there are 1100 head in both sales from the Northwest slopes and plains region, and 1400 from the Riverina.
“On an unusually rising market like this, vendors want to test the market and put their cattle in front of the largest possible buying pool,” Mr Rookyard said.
“Another factor is just how widespread the recent rain has now been. Buying interest is coming from all over, rather than one specific region, and AuctionsPlus is well equipped to cater for that in providing the widest possible buyer footprint.”
Will the AuctionsPlus platform cope?
The intense interest being shown in cattle price movements presently has thrown open a challenge to AuctionsPlus’s IT department, with record levels of user traffic, both bidders and interested observers.
Last week saw what is believed to be a record live audience of around 1100 people from across Australia monitoring the weaner and yearling sale as it unfolded, including both bidders and onlookers. Many jumped immediately from the weaner sale to the weekly Eastern States sale as soon as the young cattle sale concluded.
By comparison, back in mid-January before the rain impact arrived, typical audience numbers for weekly sales were 400 or less.
Mr Rookyard said while today’s sales included a massive 380 lots across the weaner & yearling sale and the eastern states sale, his IT department was confident the bidding platform would handle the load.
“We did a machinery auction last year with 500 lots under simultaneous bidding and had no issues, so we’re confident the system will cope. But we’re double checking everything,” he told Beef Central yesterday afternoon. “It will certainly put the system to the test.”
While there was no clear evidence of first-time vendors in this week’s record AuctionsPlus sales catalogues, the market conditions had certainly attracted vendors who had not used the platform for at least 12 months, and in some cases more.
“That certainly applies out of Queensland at present,” Mr Rookyard said.
“Recently we’ve seen northern NSW buyers coming into the system, chasing those lines of young cattle out of Queensland, and vendors see AuctionsPlus as the ideal channel to broaden that buyer competition, in a strongly rising market,” he said.
The region with the biggest buying strength for the past few weeks had been the NSW Northern Tablelands, which Mr Rookyard said was “really exciting to see, because that region has had a horrid 18 months.”
In January, for example, some 20pc of all Queensland listings on AuctionsPlus were channelled into the Northern Tablelands region.
Targeting interstate buyers
With interstate transfers increasingly common as restocking gathers momentum across eastern states, some one-off online sales are being organised to target long-distance buyer competition.
Nutrien is organising a special Pilbara store cattle sale next Friday on AuctionsPlus, offering 2500 mostly Brahman, Droughtmaster and Santa-type weaners and heifers, with South Australian and eastern states buyers anticipated.
Recent transactions out of WA on AuctionsPlus have seen 39pc of Monday’s WA sale offering travel as far as eastern SA, but not yet into the eastern states.
- View Beef Central’s weekly AuctionsPlus sales wrap-up later today, to see how listings in this week’s record offering fared.