THE 10TH annual Nutrien Livestock Mt Barker Angus Weaner Sale blitzed its anniversary expectations with a result almost double that of last year in a total clearance of 2385 steer and heifer calves.
It was a result that had many shaking their heads in awe, none more so than Nutrien Livestock Mt Barker agent and auctioneer Harry Carroll.
After the 2021 fixture, where 1696 weaners were offered and sold, he said at the time "I have been involved in some big sales in my nearly 50-year journey in the livestock industry and none have come close to this one.
"It has certainly set a new mark for weaner sales in WA."
Well this year's event didn't come close, it was streets ahead setting a new benchmark of Himalayan proportions and leaving him musing what the Nutrien Livestock team would have to do next year to better it.
WA's biggest weaner sale and biggest all Angus fixture proved a major drawcard for buyers of all descriptions, both local and Eastern States-based.
From backgrounders to exporters, lotfeeders and those seeking quality future breeders they chased one another to the end where the prize was sizeable drafts of plum black calves, all weaned, Bovi-Shield MH-One vaccinated and ready to hit their weight gaining or breeding straps.
By day's end 2148 Angus steer weaners had sold to sale-topping values of $2445 and 680c/kg, while 237 Angus heifer weaners were accounted for at tops of $2208 and 622c/kg for an overall average of $2103 in a total clearance which never looked in doubt.
The Nutrien 'green' hot tone was set early when pen one, a sole line, comprising 15 well-rounded 443kg steers in prime condition from inaugural vendors Cedar and Sue Armstrong, Mouquet Grazing Co, Albany, got the bouquet from a New South Wales' buyer at 552c/kg to make the day's top of $2445, $111 ahead of the next best price.
The 680c/kg top was achieved for a line of 32 steers weighing 284kg which returned $1933 for LT Toovey & Sons, Cranbrook, bought by Edwards Livestock1.
Interstate buyers from New South Wales and South Australia buying through agents on the ground accounted for the first 13 pens and maintained an ongoing presence throughout the sale to finish with 1109 weaners in total.
This equated to 46 per cent of the yarding and suggested that even with freight added, WA cattle are seen as a desirable and viable cross-border beef option.
AuctionsPlus also played a hand with 1055 catalogue views, 121 logins, four active bidders and 10 lots sold through the online platform to three buyers, all WA-based.
Fittingly the day's biggest vendor and sale regulars, the Bairstow family, Arizona Farms, Lake Grace, which presented 450 Angus steers, figured prominently on the clerking sheets, topping at $2275 for 36 head in pen five which weighed 408kg and sold at 558c/kg to the same NSW buyer that kicked off proceedings.
Others from the Arizona draft destined for the same home across the Nullarbor were 30 head weighing 411kg at 554c/kg which returned $2274 and 50 head at 385kg and 580c/kg returning $2232.
Also keen to take a 'steak' in the Arizona product was Springfield Farms, Newdegate, which finished with 60 head from the eastern Wheatbelt enterprise to a top price of $2256 for 369kg calves and up to 618c/kg for 360kg calves.
Edwards Livestock1 found its firepower in the Arizona offering ensuring its name appeared on the clerking sheets against four lines including one of 15 head weighing 361kg for 626c/kg and $2258.
After the sale Arizona Farms co-principal Luke Bairstow said being part of this fixture, now in its 10th year, provided a great opportunity to market their cattle to an Australia-wide buying audience.
It clearly paid dividends with their 450 nine to 10-month old steers averaging $2190 a head.
"This is such a quality sale, the buyers keep coming back and there is always so much enquiry around it," Mr Bairstow said.
"We've had our best ever season this year and this just adds to it so all in all it's going to be a pretty hard year to top."
As the second biggest vendor, the Carroll family, Rayview Park, Kalgan, was another that kept the trucks busy, transporting their 231 steer calves and they attracted plenty of attention.
Eastern States' buyers were active early on their heavier calves paying up to $2246 for 33 weighing 404kg at 556c/kg.
A lighter line of 40 weighing 369kg caught the eye of AG & JC Murray, Albany, at 584c/kg and $2152 with others going the way of Edwards Livestock1 at up to 618c/kg, Kalgrains and Renny Gardiner Pty Ltd.
Another name synonymous with this sale, MJ Blyth & Co, Manypeaks, was back in force with 230 steers, a big step up from the 49 they offered last year.
Again, their cattle got the nod from several buyers with none more persistent than G Kezich & Sons, which bought 56 in four lines including 12 weighing 281kg at 650c/kg to cost $1828, while Imperials Football Club paid Blyth's top of 672c/kg for 270kg calves which commanded $1814.
The Gorman family, M & M Gorman Pty Ltd, Wellstead, joined the action with 188 steers and saw them sell to a top of $2310 at 556c/kg for 50 weighing 415kg bought by Princess Royal 1, South Australia and up to 616c/kg for 11 weighing 354kg, off to New South Wales.
With a draft of 190 steers, Tim Pyle, Millstream Pastoral, achieved one of the better prices for the day of 642c/kg for a line of 15 weighing 342kg, which returned $2196 and were also headed east.
Clearly chasing the heavier steers, a NSW buyer also took a liking to nine 421kg steers in pen 25 at 554c/kg and the third top price of $2333, account one of the sale's original vendors MI & DM Twentyman, Nanarup.
Other steer lines in the Twentyman team which attracted plenty of interest were 13 head weighing 394kg which made 564c/kg and $2219 to ET Mouritz, Hyden, eight head weighing 383kg which sold for 576c/kg and $2207 and 12 head weighing 367kg which sold at 580c/kg and $2129, both to a second NSW buyer.
First time vendor Richard Metcalfe and family, Metcalfe Pastoral, Manypeaks, had a good day out after deciding to divert some steer calves, 59 in total, from their usual process.
"We would normally grass fatten these and sell them in spring, but given the strength of the market at the moment and the fact we want to make way for increased breeder numbers we decided to quit some early at this recognised fixture," Mr Metcalfe said.
And it paid dividends with a line of 15 weighing 414kg topping at the day's second best steer return $2334, at 564c/kg bought by Springfield Farms.
Topping the heifer category at $2207 was a solus line of 18 head weighing 362kg nominated by CJ & DK Pyle which sold at 610c/kg to Willowbank Agistment, Benger.
The Gatti family, L & C Gatti, Redmond, transitioned from buyers to sellers making their first appearance as vendors at the fixture on the advice of their Nutrien Livestock, Albany representative Allan Pearce and were very happy with how their 60 steers and 40 heifers sold.
"We normally sell prior to Christmas at the weekly Mt Barker sale but Allan suggested this fixture and we had the feed so we kept the calves on," Luke Gatti said.
"It was a bit more work (weaning and giving Bovi-Shield) but the premiums you get at this sale have certainly made it worth it."
The Gatti heifers were equal top in the category at 622c/kg bought by G & M Davey for $1810, while their steers topped at 642c/kg bought by Tigers Football Club for $1896.
The other 622c/kg heifers came from JR & WR Miell, Redmond, for 17 weighing 275kg realising $1711 bought by Edwards Livestock2, NSW, which landed all 54 Miell heifers offered in four lines.
Edwards Livestock2 accounted for 12 of the 18 heifer lines and when combined with Edwards Livestock1, which bought one line, it meant 135 head or 57pc of the heifer offering are destined for Eastern States 'homes'.
What the agent said:
NUTRIEN Livestock Mt Barker agent and auctioneer Harry Carroll said the quality of the cattle today was truly exceptional, as good as you would find anywhere.
"When we started this sale 10 years ago we struggled to fill half the yards," Mr Carroll said.
"Today we were into the overflow pens and to have this number of black cattle with the evenness of type and quality is quite outstanding.
"Our vendors are really putting the effort in to their genetics, their breeding programs and the management of their cattle and being rewarded accordingly.
"Every year the level of the yarding just gets better and better and a big part of that has been due to the advice and guidance of our Nutrien Livestock team.
"This sale has become a bit of a benchmark for people to see what's possible, how their cattle compare and where they need to get to through genetic improvement to be at the top level.
"And it's also a place for stud breeders to see how their bulls are performing.
"The buyers certainly appreciate the consistency of quality and the availability of big lines of even types because they keep coming back year after year.
"And having all calves weaned for a minimum of 10 days prior to sale and treated with Bovi-Shield is an added benefit for them because it means a lot of the work is already done for them.
"It was a pretty cold wet winter here but the cattle kept growing through a good spring and I'd say on average were 30kg heavier this year.
"Being a full curfew sale, the cattle were all penned last night which was a huge effort for our Nutrien Livestock staff, so what you see today is a tribute to their work too."
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