Southern Queensland cattle breeders Anthony and Janelle Hay and their family were among several vendors to share in continued high prices for young cattle at the Roma store cattle sale yesterday.
Mr and Mrs Hay run a Braford-Simmental cross breeding operation on their 2835 hectare (7000 acre) grazing property Moonya near Wandoan, which they run in conjunction with their son and daughter-in-law Casey and Rozzie. A qualified boilermaker, Casey also runs his own welding and yarding building business based in Wandoan.
Moonya comprises a mix of heavier Brigalow country and lighter sandy loam softwood scrub soils, and is mostly improved to buffel.
The Hays have found most value in turning off steers at the 350kg weight range, which their country typically achieves six to nine months after weaning. “That is where our best money is when we’re breeding them,” Mr Hay said. “With the country we’ve got we can do a pretty good job on them up to that range, but after that it gets a bit hard.”
The Hay’s steers are generally weaned onto bladeploughed paddocks in mid-winter and sold through the Roma store sale early in the new year. The sisters of the steers sold by the Hays yesterday were sent to a feedlot weighing 260kg last November.
At yesterday’s Roma store cattle sale the annual Moonya steer draft commanded an average price of 232.7c/kg. With an average weight across the seven pen draft of 335kg, they returned $780. Most sold to a bullock finisher back in the Wandoan district.
That price was 35c/kg higher than their average at Roma last year, and 41c/kg above the price they received two years ago.
Mr Hay said the higher prices were welcome, but added that with costs of production continually mounting, he hoped current price levels could last much longer.
Since taking over Moonya in 2005 the Hays have faced ongoing development costs to lift the property's productive capacity and viability.
They have bladeploughed and renovated about 25pc of their country, installed a network of new pipes and watering points across the property, and have replaced, and in some cases relocated, about half of the fences, which has included construction of a 4km laneway to improve labour and time efficiencies.
They have replaced older internal barbed wire fences with electric fences comprising two hot wires and a middle earth wire, powered by 12 volt solar panels. The Hays have also sought to recycle as many former steel posts as possible as a further cost saving measure.
Mr Hay said producers had received similar money for younger cattle 10 years ago to the prices they were receiving now, however operating costs had since sprialled.
“It is good to get that money, but you wonder how long it will last, it doesn’t take much of a hiccup for meatworks to jerk things back," Mr Hay said.
“When a few numbers do hit, they might start to. They have tried but numbers haven’t been there for the last 12 months or so.
“This is the best money we have received as far as breeding them, I just hope the margin is there for the next fella, I hope they do alright out of them.”
After a very wet year in 2010, which included a freak storm of 11.5 inches in 12 hours during March of that year, last year was drier, with Moonya receiving 18 inches for the year, well below its long-term average of 26 inches.
However the body of grass carried through from the previous wet year meant the cattle performed better from a weight gain perspective last year compared to 2010.
Mr Hay said his country could do with a drink again now.
“If we could get some good general rain from now until the end of February to set us up it would be good.
“What has been around has been hit and miss storm rain, if you’re under it you’re alright.
“We had six inches in the middle of December, and that was the biggest fall we had for a good while, so we’re looking for a good soaking at the moment.”
Following is a report by Meat and LIvestock Australia NLRS reporter Martin Bunyard from yesterday's Roma store cattle sale, where weaner heifers sold to 260c/kg :
Cattle numbers remained steady at 5818 head at Roma’s Store Sale on Tuesday.
The majority of the weaner steers and heifers were at the heavier end of the 330kg weight range, while there was a mix of British/European and Brahman-cross types of feeder weight steers available.
Most of the restocker buyers were from South-West parts of the State and Southern Queensland feedlots were quite active during the sale.
Feeder steers in the 400-550kg range topping at 234c/kg and averaging 200c/kg, while steers in the 350-400kg range reached 254c/kg and averaged 211c/kg and steers in the 280-350kg range reached 254c/kg and averaged 225c/kg. Weaner steers in the 220-280kg range reached 260c/kg and averaged 234c/kg, while weaners under 220kg topped at 260c/kg and averaged 228c/kg.
The Ridge family, Les-Mar, Roma, sold Angus-cross steers to 254c/kg for 363kg to return $923/head.
The Harland family, Glenolive, Injune, sold Santa steers to 252c for 326kg to make $823. They also sold Santa heifers to 216c for 293kg to return $634.
The Brennan family, For Far, Mitchell, sold Brahman steers to 250c for 250kg to make $627. They also sold Charbray heifers to 210c for 267kg to return $562.
The Freeman family, Meeleebee Downs, Wallumbilla, sold Hereford steers to 246c for 350kg to return $862.
The Entriken family, Sesbania, Winton, sold Droughtmaster-cross steers to 244c for 278kg to make $679.
The Collinson family, Gubberamunda, Roma, sold Santa-cross steers to 239c for 334kg to return $800.
The Hutchinson family, White Oaks, Tambo, sold Santa-cross steers to 238c for 268kg to make $638.
Bangor Cattle Co, Mungallala, sold Charolais-cross steers to 236c for 310kg to make $732.
Dumfries Grazing Co, Muckadilla, sold Santa-cross steers to 234c for 314kg to return $735.
The Cameron family, Kilima, Roma, sold Droughtmaster-cross steers to 224c for 311kg to return $699.
The Hay family, Moonya, Wandoan, sold Braford-cross steers to 222c for 380kg to make $845.
Dart Pastoral Co, Thirlstone, Roma, sold Charolais steers to 214c for 430kg to make $922.
The Landsberg family, Maybe, Quilpie, sold Charbray-cross steers to 214c for 397kg to return $852.
Roslin Grazing, Roslin, Mungallala, sold Charolais steers to 213c for 457kg to make $976.
The Joliffe family, Walhallow, Amby, sold Santa steers to 207c for 414kg to return $858.
The Jones family, Evergreen, Injune, sold Charolais-cross steers to 197c for 616kg to return $1216.
Heifers in the 350-450kg range reached 206c and averaged 184c.
Heifers in the 280-350kg range topped at 248c/kg and averaged 204c/kg.
Heifers in the 220-280kg range topped at 260c/kg and averaged 221c/kg, while heifers under 220kg topped at 248c/kg and averaged 230c/kg.
Mt Rourke Past Co, Boolbie, Winton, sold Droughtmaster heifers to 260c for 249kg to make $648.
Perrett Cattle Co, Tunis, Injune, sold Charbray heifers to 230c and averaged 218c for 240kg to return $524.
The Reiser family, Tocal, Mitchell, sold Brahman heifers to 224c for 265kg to make $595.
The Killen family, Drysdale Ponds, Mitchell, sold Santa-cross heifers to 219c for 264kg to return $579.
Moonya Pastoral Co, Moonya, Roma, sold Santa-cross heifers to 215c for 306kg to make $659.
The Lister family, Trevallen, Roma, sold Angus heifers to 208c for 265kg to return $552.
Athelstane Partnership, Winton, sold Brahman heifers to 198c and averaged 194c for 311kg to make $605.
The Russell family, Hopes Creek Paddock, Roma, sold Droughtmaster heifers to 195c for 406kg to return $793.
Preston Partnership, Preston, Mungallala, sold Brahman heifers to 182c for 438kg to make $798.
Cows over 500kg hit 177c and averaged 162c, while cows 400-500kg topped at 168c and averaged 150c. Cows in the 300-400kg range made 155c and averaged 133c.
Cows and Calves sold to $1250/unit and averaged $963.
Bulls up to 400kg reached 235c to average 189c.