Numbers of bulls sold at auction for 2023 for the ten largest breeds

Jon Condon, 07/12/2023

THERE were 25,195 stud and herd bulls sold this year among the ten largest beef breeds listed in Beef Central’s 2023 annual bull sales summary.

Our 2023 report includes this summary of numbers of bulls sold, and a separate article discussing average prices paid.

The same ten breeds last year accounted for 26,097 bulls, representing a decline in numbers this year of just over 900 bulls or 3.5pc.

Both 2021 and 2022 bull sale numbers were influenced by national herd rebuilding, however, as the industry recovered after two drought years (2019 across most of eastern Australia, and extending well into 2020 in more northern regions).

Exceptional prices for commercial cattle last year also put more money in commercial producers’ pockets, to go out and invest in new genetics and retire older bulls. Prior to this, some producers had hung on to old bulls a year or two longer than normal until the drought broke.

Bull numbers sold at auction 2023

Click on image for a larger view

For auction results listed in the table above, Angus remains clearly the dominant breed involved, with 11,333 bulls sold at auction this year, or 45pc of all bulls sold. There were a record 214 Angus bulls sales held across Australia from January to November this year, up from 207 last year and 174 the year before that.

Next largest breed by auction numbers sold this year was Brahman with 2312 bulls sold, followed by Hereford, 2181 and Santa Gertrudis, 2151.

Although total numbers of Charolais bulls sold in 2023 declined by 5pc to 1724 bulls, it is still the second largest number of Charolais bulls sold in one year.

Clearance rates

Sourcing accurate breed-wide sale clearance rates is becoming more challenging, by the year. Only half the breeds listed this year could provide clearances for 2023 sales, but of those that did, figures ranged from 77pc to 87pc.

The previous year (2022), clearance rates among the ten breeds ranged from 88pc to an extraordinary (perhaps unprecedented) 100pc, for Wagyu.

While trends varied wildly, the common belief was that there were less bulls being offered by stud masters this year than last year – especially among those studs selling through the depths of the dry period from July to early November.

Some vendors trimmed their catalogues significantly as the dry started to set-in.

Trade-in value

Another factor this year has been the dramatic decline in ‘trade-in’ meatworks value for retired bulls, which last year and the year before gave producers a healthy financial starting point when going into the market for replacements.

For long periods this year, cull bulls 800-900kg for manufacturing beef were making only 200-220c/kg, whereas 300-350c/kg were common last year. Plenty of heavy cull bulls last year were making $3000-$3500, whereas $1600-$2200 was more common this year.

As noted in Beef Central’s previous annual summaries, however, caution should be shown in making direct breed ‘comparisons’ over numbers of bulls sold, as any sort of benchmark of popularity.

Large tropical breeds like Brahmans and Droughtmasters continue to sell the majority of bulls privately via the paddock, rather than the auction ring, making any sort of accurate assessment of total bulls used impossible.

The same applies with Wagyu. There’s been a dramatic rise in popularity of auction selling to market Wagyu bulls this year (see earlier Beef Central story) where numbers sold at auction have more than doubled to 682, however the overwhelming majority of Wagyu bulls used across Australia continue to be sourced out of the paddock, under private deals.

Brahman experience:

Australian Brahman Breeders Association general manager Marsha Keily said seasonal trends and uncertainty surrounding the Indonesian live export market closure back in August had robbed some Brahman bull buyer confidence this year.

“For example our Gold City sale held just before the rain started cleared 67pc of bulls offered. Three weeks later, after the rain started to fall, Wilangi sale in Charters Towers on November 24 cleared 100pc.”

Ms Keily said the strength of Brahman demand this year had come through the better end of the commercial bull market from large-scale northern producers.

Demand for polled Brahman cattle continued to grow, and was clearly reflected in pricing differences between polled and horned Brahman cattle. The ABBA is carrying out some research in this area.

Reds and Greys continued to have support from different northern buyers, with live export-focused northern operators servicing the Indonesia market continuing to focus exclusively on Greys, due to market requirements.

The number of non-registered Brahman herd bulls continues to decline, as a proportion of overall bulls sold. This year, just 5.2pc of all Brahman bulls sold at auction were unregistered. There was also a dramatic difference in price, with registered Brahman bulls this year averaging $9387, and unregistered, $6364.

Eight or ten years ago, up to a third of Brahman bulls offered in some northern sales were unregistered.

  • Time and available resources limited the scope of this year’s report to the above ten larger beef breeds, each responsible for at least 680 auction sale bulls this year. Other breeds wishing to add their 2023 results are welcome to use the reader comment facility at the base of this page.

2024 Autumn bull selling season call to action for studmasters

Bull breeders wishing to promote their Autumn 2024 bull sales via ads on Beef Central’s genetics pages, daily email alert or home page early next year should contact business development manager Matt Hatchard at or phone on 0437 870 127. Available ad spaces are starting to fill up, so we recommend making contact early to avoid disappointment.

Soon after Christmas, work will also start on compiling our full list of 2024 Upcoming Autumn 2023 Bull Sales, appearing as a searchable list in Beef Central’s genetics section. We remind studmasters to submit their 2024 autumn sale dates early next year (via this form), if they are not already provided by respective breed societies.

A number of beef breeds have re-set their record prices for bulls and registered females during 2023. Click this link to access Beef Central’s comprehensive list of breed records.

To all our loyal and enthusiastic bull sale advertising clients – many of whom have stuck with Beef Central for a decade or more – we thank you for you ongoing support and wish you, and all readers a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.








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  1. Themba Mtsweni, 09/12/2023

    The prizes were really good last year.

  2. Sphamandla Kheswa, 09/12/2023

    That’s great
    I’m inspired

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