Cyclone rain fattens pastoral cattle

31 May, 2006 08:45 PM
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WITH cattle prices firm, and the highest rainfall recorded in six years; for many pastoralists it is a dream come true.

Yearling, steer and cow prices firmed by 5c at Monday's Midland sale, reaching the highest prices for the year.

While many farmers across the state stare at empty rain gauges in hope of a few millimetres, northern WA is celebrating record rains as a result of cyclones earlier in the year.

Mount Vernon station, 170km south-west of Newman, recorded 425.8mm of rain from January to the end of April - 183mm above its yearly average.

Since 1939, the station has recorded an average yearly rainfall of 242.9mm.

The Bureau of Meteorology in Port Hedland reports that the last time more than 255mm fell on the station was in 2000.

For the last three weeks fat station cattle have been herded into the Midland saleyards to the glee of eager bidders.

A large percentage of pastoral cattle are being sold directly to live exporters through Port Hedland due to the good prices offered, resulting in a shortage of quality pastoral cattle at the Midland yards.

Elders auctioneer Mel Morris said the station cattle coming in were more forward than those from southern WA.

He said there had been good lines of steers coming forward from the pastoral areas.

Pastoral steers topped the prices at the Midland sale on Monday, with a Newland Santa Gertrudis reaching $1015.

The steer was one of 103 that averaged $705.49.

The strong sale also saw a Simmental bull, Woodanilling, reach $1322.

Yearling beef and steers were up 5c on last week's sale, with cows up 3c.

They were the highest prices received for all types this year.

Mount Vernon station sold Hereford steers to 180c/kg at Midland on Monday.

The station's representative, Kerry Phillips - pastoralist Bernie Panizza's daughter - said for the first time in two years she was not selling in the veal yards.

Mrs Phillips said this was the first year the station had had good rains since 1997, yet that year the station was flooded.

Mount Vernon station sold top quality cattle for a good price at the Midland sale this week.

But Mrs Phillips said the station had not had much feed on it for the past four years, which was the last time they received decent prices.

Four years ago the station had a lot of dry fodder around and with cattle prices going through the roof she had been able to take advantage of the market and sell cattle at a good price.

This was the second week Mrs Phillips had sold at the Midland yards this year.

While many pastoral cattle have been sold directly to live exporters this year, Mrs Phillips prefers to sell cattle through the auction system.

It was her dad's philosophy that everyone - from the big exporter to the little farmer - should have the opportunity to bid on the cattle.

Mrs Phillips said her dad was once a little farmer and he believed the auction system was the only fair way to sell.

"He believed that whatever went around comes around," she said.

"In the auction system, some weeks you lose and some you gain."

Next month, the Panizza family will be celebrating 55 years of ownership at Mount Vernon station.

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