SALEYARDS across eastern Australia continued to re-set price records right up to the final sales for the year held yesterday, providing the impetus for the Eastern Young Cattle Indicator to reach its highest point in history in its final 2021 registration.
The indicator effectively closed for the year yesterday (no EYCI-eligible sales are held on Fridays) at 1169c/kg dressed weight, up another 22c/kg in the past week and an incredible 355c/kg higher than this time last year.
By any measure, 2021 has been a great year to be a livestock producer. Generally, most livestock regions received a drenching, filling dams, providing long-term soil moisture and supporting pasture growth. High livestock prices also benefitted producers looking to sell stock.
As a result of the sustained rain, the EYCI nearly broke a new record every week. Throughout the year, restocker demand moved from NSW to Queensland. At present, restockers in Dalby and Roma are driving the EYCI up, currently paying 1278c/kg for young cattle, which is a 180c premium to the price feedlots are paying.
It was not only the EYCI that hit new records this year, with the trend repeated in all cattle categories. Medium cow prices hit 381c/kg lwt earlier this year, on the back of acutely low supply of females as producers held back great numbers of heifers and cows for breeding purposes.
Feedlot industry goes from strength to strength
Despite record feeder steer prices, it has been a strong year for the feedlot sector. The industry achieved its fifteenth consecutive quarter of more than one million head on feed. In a period of tight cattle supply, the lotfeeding sector provided reliability and continuity. As a result, more than 50pc of beef consumed domestically, and 50pc of total production, was grainfed.
Throughout 2021, 2.8 million cattle entered the feedlot sector. Of these cattle on feed, there was a trend towards feeding for longer as it made economic sense. There was also a move to long fed programs, with 15pc more longfed Wagyu on feed this year compared to a year ago.
Treble run of record-breaking sales at Gracemere
Physical sales continued to re-set records right up to the final fixtures for the year held on Wednesday and Thursday this week.
At one of the last physical sales for the year at Gracemere on Wednesday, steer price records lifted 54c/kg liveweight and heifers another 26c/kg, selling to peak of an incredible 828c/kg.
This marked the third week running that c/kg records were broken at the Central Queensland Livestock Exchange Prime and Store Sale, creating a memorable final auction for the 2021 selling season.
The steer price reached 906.2c/kg for a 148kg Brangus line offered by Woodstock Station, Marlborough, to return $1346/head. The new record topped last week’s Droughtmaster sale-toppers that made 852c/kg for vendor Morrison and Sons, Sarina Range.
The remarkable heifer price, of 828.2c/kg, went to a pen of Red Brangus weaners from MJ and PM Wheeler, Koumala, which averaged 191kg and returned $1581/head. Brangus also held the previous record, set a week earlier.
Paul Wells, Elders, Central Queensland, said the results were being driven by great local seasonal conditions and a tightened national herd supply, which was powering restocker demand.
“It’s an unbelievable market in this region. For two years we have been saying the prices won’t go any higher, but they continue to do so,” Mr Wells said.
“We have had highlights like this right throughout the year, and week-on-week, it keeps getting better.”
Mr Wells said Wednesday’s bidding competition had action from both local and southern bidders for the top-selling heifer offering.
“We had a new southern buyer who was active across all the light heifers, but it was a local restocker who bought the top run and will most likely keep them on as future breeders,” he said.
The complete yarding, drawn from a wide region of Central Queensland, between Bowen and Gin Gin and west past Clermont, totalled 3247 head.
MJ and PM Wheeler, also had a strong result for their Brangus steer offering averaging 202kg, making 844cto return $1708. Ilbilbie vendor, C Howland, made a return of $1501 for an Angus cross pen 178kg which sold for 842kg.
In the feeder category, Yeppoon Grazing made 550c/kg for its Brangus line averaging 492kg to return $2711.
P and L Dahl, Clermont, sold a run of 173 Grey Brahman No.0 steers 349kg which topped at 612c/kg to return $2091/head.
In the heifer category, an offering of five pens of Brangus heifers from Consolidated Pastoral Co, Biloela, averaged 650c/kg. The lead pen averaging 359kg made 662c returning $2377/head.
EM and RF Bella, Nebo, sold Brangus weaner heifers 210kg for 758c/kg while Kendah Enterprises, Wowan, sold EU accredited Droughtmaster cross heifers 544kg averaging 492.2c/kg.
The cows and calves market also boasted good results, with a Bayfield Cattle Co, Biloela, selling a Charbray/Brangus line for $4050/unit.
Looking ahead, Mr Wells anticipated a strong first sale back to begin the 2022 selling season on 12 January.