LIKE sport - if key players are missing in the cattle buyers' game, the scoreboard takes a hit.
Elders WA commercial livestock manager Michael Longford said a softer presence of feedlotters was reflective in the current market and prices.
Mr Longford said the entire country faced the same situation where prices had fallen, off the back of record highs.
"I don't think prices will start to pick back up again until later on in the year when the feedlotters and graziers will be back into the market again," Mr Longford said.
"With the way it is raining here at the moment, it should be a good spring at this stage.
"Then you'll get people coming into the market to buy those new season calves again, which will start the supply chain off and drive prices back up."
So can buyers and sellers expect to see the market creep into record territory again?
Mr Longford said it was unknown.
In saying that, he believes it will grow stronger than what buyers and sellers are seeing now - if everyone returns to the market.
But they aren't the only ones missing, cattle numbers are too with limited numbers up for sale.
"Numbers have dropped off in the yards due to the time of year.
"Good quality local cattle are still bringing in good money.
"Even though the price has come back a bit, it is still better than where we were many years ago.
"I think everyone's just waiting for the new weaner calves to come through."
Mr Longford said it was a funny time of the year and one not usual for this time.
So, are two highly contagious diseases - COVID in humans and FMD in cattle - having an influence?
Certainly in some ways and most definitely when it comes to labour shortages.
"Since the start of COVID, abattoirs have had a battle with not so much the supply, but having the staff to process the animals," Mr Longford said.
"Labour shortages in abattoirs have created a backlog, which they have had to slowly work through."
Meanwhile, Indonesia's FMD outbreak has kept WA's livestock industry on tenterhooks in recent months.
Mr Longford said the drop back in prices and the wariness of producers had created some good buying opportunities.
He said people should be taking advantage of the current market and tucking cattle away before the new season started.
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