It has been 10 months since the Longreach Saleyards last held a cattle sale, and there is no indication yet as to when the cry of sale-o will return to the centre.
Longreach Combined Agents last week sent a letter to graziers and buyers advising that no more sales will be held at Longreach until the season improves.
Most properties in the district have been significantly destocked as dry conditions have forced cattle to be sold or trucked away to agistment or feedlots.
Where stock do remain or are too poor to travel, the entire daily focus of producers remains on hand-feeding cattle and transporting water to keep stock alive.
Longreach Combined Agents president Bill Seeney from Ray White Livestock said the number of cattle available for sale around Longreach was now very limited, and where cattle were available for sale, there were not enough buyers locally.
“In regards to buyer competition, there are no local buyers, so we need to send our cattle away to markets where there are buyers,” he said.
Despite the absence of sales at Longreach since May 2014, the yards still serve as a private weighing facility and spelling centre for cattle in transit.
More than 20,000 AA Co weaners for example are weighed and spelled in the yards in transit from NT breeding properties to Southern Queensland feedlots each year, while the centre has also been used as a marshaling point in recent years for cows purchased for the Primo abattoir near Scone NSW.
While drought has prevented agents at Longreach from drawing the cattle and buyers needed to conduct regular sales, 200km to the south east, Blackall continues to string together a steady flow of sales.
Blackall continues to host regular sales
Blackall has held five combined store and prime sales so far this year. 2400 cattle were yarded last week and another 2000 are booked for this this week.
The centre also has around 4000 cattle booked for its next monthly weaner sale next week.
Jack Burgess from Grant Daniel Long at Blackall said the mindset of the Combined Agents at the centre is to sell as long as there are cattle available.
“Even if there is only 1000 head we will still go,” Mr Burgess said.
“The market is strong enough at the moment that there are people wanting to come and buy cattle, so we will keep rolling.”
He said that despite the severe drought affecting large parts of the Central West, there were still areas where the season was good enough to generate the supply and demand required to conduct a sale.
“Only 100km north of us, like Jericho and Alpha and parts of Barcy are really good, you wouldn’t believe it,” he said. “We’re getting fat cattle out of there, and then south of us, we recently sold a big mob of bullocks that were mud fat from only 120km south.
“In our local area of Blackall it is really, really ordinary, but we still have some stock around, and in Ilfracombe and Longreach it is very very dry, there would be lucky to be a good mob of cattle there at the moment.”
He said however that on current indications it was likely that supply would start to slow down toward the middle of the year.