CATTLE and sheep prices in WA have hit unprecedented levels in recent weeks.
With young steers reaching $2.70 a kilogram and a line of 155 White Dorper ewe lambs selling for $190 at the Primaries Katanning ewe sale on Monday, producers have every reason to smile.
Elders livestock manager Paul Mahony said the cattle market was very strong at the moment.
"When you look at what happened in Mt Barker last week with heifer calves (reaching $1500), the market is just so competitive and the numbers are just not there," Mr Mahony said.
"It is great for producers but it's also good for the whole industry I believe.
"If you look right across the board at the processing or the live export side of things, prices are absolutely wonderful really."
Mr Mahony said the industry would be watching to see what happens at the feeder sales, which begin next month.
"To entice those lighter cattle out there you would need a very good price, because you get the feeling people are understocked," he said.
"They are probably trying to hang on to cattle to try and put a little bit more weight into them."
He said the quality of the cattle coming through was very high and he expected prices to remain high.
"To say that prices will keep going (up) from $2.70 for steers is a pretty big call," he said.
"If it doesn't go down too much further than $2.70 then that is probably a good result."
Wellard Group's cattle procurement manager Grant Miller said the prices were good for producers but not great for exporters.
"The strength of the Australian dollar doesn't help us as exporters but you are now seeing the effects of the stock which have gone east, the acreage that has gone into bluegums and the effects of drought," Mr Miller said.
"The cattle just aren't there."
He said a lot of producers chose to get out while the going was good.
"The market was very strong last year, probably the strongest the market has ever been dollar for dollar," he said.
"People sold right down to the calf pen because there had been no incentive there to grow their cattle out for processors.
"Prices are currently, animal for animal, stronger than the Eastern States and that is something that is unseen (in WA)."
Primaries livestock manager Peter Sheridan said the line of ewes which sold for $190 in Katanning this week averaged 46kg liveweight.
He said current prices for sheep were sustainable if the industry took a long-term view.
p Read the full coverage of the Primaries Katanning ewe sale on page 58 of this week's Farm Weekly.