The 2023/24 season's stand-alone weekly weaner sale program kicked off last Wednesday at the Boyanup Saleyards.
The Nutrien Livestock and Elders South West selling teams yarded a combined total of 1337 new season weaner steers and heifers weaned for a minimum of 10 days.
The good quality yarding of calves was dominated by steers and featured first drafts from regular vendors at the special fully weaned fixture.
The sale attracted a large crowd who were hoping to see some improvement in WA's weakened cattle market but unfortunately the sale followed recent trends.
Suitable medium and heavier weight calves attracted selective competition from several lotfeeders operating, while lighter cattle continue to feel the pressure of grazier uncertainty heightened by tougher seasonal conditions while the subdued heifer market in general continued.
At sale's end, buyers sourced quality cattle at value with the overall yarding averaging a modest $726 and highlights the dramatic downturn in the market from 12 months ago where the corresponding fixture averaged $1769.
The heavy end of steers 350-390kg sold to 296c/kg and $1128, mediumweights 300-350kg topped at 304c/kg and lighter steers less than 300kg sold to 290c/kg.
In the heifer section of the sale, heavy heifers of 500kg-plus topped at $876, 300-340kg heifers sold to 202c/kg and heifers less than 300kg topped at 180c/kg.
The sale was interfaced on AuctionsPlus attracting 1172 views across the two agent catalogues and seeing registered bidders mainly from WA and also Victoria, New South Wales and Tasmania.
An Eastern Wheatbelt feeder buyer placed 139 bids across 43 pens and purchased 22 of them.
Nutrien Livestock had first sale honours and kick-started proceedings with a yarding of 847 calves, consisting of 563 steers and 284 heifers.
The company's top price double was recorded from the outset with nine Angus steers averaging 369kg from the paddocks of Polybrook Orchard Pty Ltd, Dwellingup, knocked down to John Gallop for $1094 and 296c/kg on behalf of a southern lotfeeder order.
He followed it up with another equal top-priced 296c/kg bid for the first pen of 12 Angus steers weighing 365kg to start the large draft of 84 Angus steer weaners from Stickney & Sons, Yarloop and record the next highest value of $1082.
Graham Brown, representing a Central Wheatbelt feeder, collected three pens of the Stickney steers paying to 290c/kg and $963 for 12 steers averaging 332kg.
Mr Gallop added several more quality pens of steers to his lotfeeder order at the top-end of the market including $1070 at 292c/kg for 11 Angus steers averaging 366kg offered by Jennifer G Colum, Pinjarra and 11 Angus steers weighing 360kg trucked in Bernard Hoskings, Brunswick, costing $1038 at 288c/kg.
Jamie Davies, Kalgrains, Wannamal, was active throughout the sale and paid to $1047 at 282c/kg for 12 Simmental steers offered by SF & SL Fox Slater, Stratham.
Stoney Pastoral Company, Donnybrook, was among the sale's largest vendors with a draft of 84 lighter Angus steers (180-265kg) with repeat buyer KL & SA Payne, Capel, securing five of the seven pens of steers bidding to 262c/kg and $663.
Gordon Atwell, Welldon Beef, Williams, was another active lotfeeder and bid to 282c/kg for 12 Charolais cross steers averaging 340kg from Empire Grazing, Bridgetown, to cost $959.
The sale shifted to the line-up of heifers and this was where the Eastern Wheatbelt lotfeeder operating on AuctionsPlus opened their account on their way to collecting 16 pens of heifers.
They paid the sale's $876 top heifer price at 166c/kg for four Limousin cross heifers averaging 528kg offered by KR & VS Lewis, Waroona.
Ms Colum's Angus cattle featured again in the top prices, with the opening pen of 12 Angus heifers averaging 340kg knocked down for the section's 182c/kg equal top liveweight price to Nutrien Livestock Margaret River/Busselton agent Jock Embry for a local grazier to cost $619 - as did the Fox Slater family with seven Simmental heifers weighing 349kg going to Mr Davies for 182c/kg and $634.
Attention swung to Elders' catalogue of 490 calves consisting of 374 steers and 116 heifers.
The crowd returned to the rails at the start of the steers to regain the earlier momentum in the market at slightly improved values to finish the sale on a positive note.
The sale's $1128 top price was paid by Mr Davies for 12 Angus cross steers weighing 392kg offered by JF Montgomery, Donnybrook, with a 288c/kg bid.
He added a further three pens of heavier steers (360-400kg) bidding to 292ckg top liveweight price for seven Angus steers averaging 366kg from BW & RW & JW Crossing, Dardanup, to cost $1068.
Mr Brown opened the section paying $1122 at 286c/kg for 11 Angus steers weighing 392kg offered by GS & RJ Legge, Vasse - one of seven pens of steers for his Wheatbelt feeder order.
Alex Roberts, Elders, Boyanup, was busy manning a few local grazier orders and finished with eight pens of steers paying to $1010 at 290c/kg for 12 Angus steers weighing 348kg from Bacchus Farms, Busselton and the sale's 304c/kg top liveweight price for 12 Angus steers averaging 309kg costing $939 from the large draft of 73 Angus steer weaners (250-330kg) offered by TH & L Gibbs & Sons, Dardanup.
He included three pens from the Gibbs' draft paying the next highest liveweight price of 302c/kg for 12 steers weighing 270kg costing $814.
Rodney Galati, Brunswick, also broke the $1000 mark ($1005 at 278c/kg) for a trio of Charolais steers weighing 362kg from BW & DJ Bell, Bardoo Charolais stud, Elgin.
A quality run of heifers rounded out proceedings, with Mr Brown collecting the first four pens for two Wheatbelt orders paying to the section's $621 top price at 182c/kg for nine Angus heifers weighing 341kg from the Crossing's draft to finish with six pens of heifers in total.
The Bell family's draft of 46 silver and red factor Charolais heifers painted a picture and sold to the sale's 202c/kg top liveweight price costing $603 for 12 averaging 299kg going to the WA feeder buyer on AuctionsPlus who finished with five pens of heifers including three from the Bell's draft.
WHAT THE AGENT SAID
Nutrien Livestock auctioneer and Manjimup representative Austin Gerhardy said it was a good quality yarding of predominantly steers for the first dedicated weaner sale of the season.
"Medium and heavyweight steers sold to the lotfeeding market, while lighter steers were met with limited competition from graziers and unusually reached less cents per kilo values than the heavier cattle," Mr Gerhardy said.
"Heifers were dramatically reduced in value with minimal enquiry from any sector of the buying gallery."