Four years of testing dry conditions forced Fay and Alec Nugent, Toliness, Tambo, to alter their style of operating and the results are proving positive.
A decision not for the faint hearted, the Nugents shifted from their normal breeding and finishing regime of selling into the Jap Ox market to trading feeder steers through the Roma Saleyards.
The couple offered 441 station bred Santa Gertrudis steers at today’s Roma store sale. The steers averaged 473kg and sold for 356c/kg to return $1686/hd.
Mr Nugent said the new selling program only began last year when the family sold a similar line through Roma although this year’s offering were in better condition thanks to an exceptional winter.
“Throughout the dry years we were forced to offload cattle earlier so they started getting younger and younger but this seems to be the best way to go now,” he said.
“We’re getting more for these heavy feed-on steers now than what we were for bullocks a couple of years ago.
“The market is good, the prices are good and the season is good so everything is in our favour.”
Mr Nugent said the Tambo area experienced a great winter with very few frosts and significant rainfall- a lovely change after four years of less than average conditions.
“We lightened our numbers and managed to retain our breeders through the worst of it so that was very fortunate,” he said.
“Given the market now we’re thankful we’re not in the position of replacing our 2000 head breeding herd.”
While prices at the store sale continued to offer producers a sizeable margin, Landmark Roma’s Rod Turner said prices were 10 cents back in the sale’s early stages.
“People have been here for weeks and weeks buying cattle to put on oats but now the oats and herbage is starting to lighten off the demand is slipping,” he said.
“The yardings are still large with about 9000 head here today and we’re seeing a lot of cattle coming in from Northerm and Central Queensland.
“The meat job has eased back and we’ve heard the processors say the margin isn’t in it for them so we were expecting this.”
The EYCI dipped below 700c for the first time in two months yesterday but MLA market information manager Ben Thomas said the trend was typical.
“As we come into the spring months we usually see more cattle come onto the market and that was withheld somewhat due to restrictions in cattle movements due to wet weather,” he said.
“From a supply point of view the percentage increase in numbers isn’t expected to be as much as it has been however there are some headwinds at the moment- the Australian Dollar at 76 cents is about seven per cent above where it was this time last year taking some competitiveness away from Aussie beef.
“Beyond the next six months as we see the national herd climb back towards 27 million head we could see the Australian beef market fall back in line with global trends but for the meantime conditions will continue to support the market.”