Markets continue to be resilient to the forces of nature as livestock prices kept improving as the week progressed both for processor types and for cattle suitable for feedlots.
While most feedlots are at maximum capacity, they continue to stay active in the auction and private treaty markets. Restockers are cautiously remaining in the market looking towards a spring break.
To date our market is absorbing the numbers and the prices are encouraging considering the season.
Memories of 1965
Comparisons continue to the 1965 drought, which was severe, and to date the worst in living memory. Therefore, it was interesting to talk with some who had to deal in the market at that time. Ron Armstrong was branch manager for Elders GM during the ’65 drought and received the following instruction from the Queensland General Manager of Elders GM, Mr T. H. F. Winchester, dated 23rd August 1965.
Ron had been appointed manager of Elders Mitchell and Mr Winchester advised him: “Your salary had been increased to 1463 pounds per annum” which was approximately 28 pounds per week ($56). All Ron sold was hay, molasses and chain saw parts, as livestock had no value and they were encouraged not to be trading any livestock.
The barometer of the livestock markets at that time was the once great Cannon Hill Saleyards, now a significant residential area of the city.
During that ’65 drought, I am told one sale of note was some 2500 Merino wethers that were on the road from Blackall to Roma and then trucked into Cannon Hill saleyards would at most have made to $3/head at the weekly sale.
Bullocks at Cannon Hill at the same time sold to a top of $72 and cows $48 trucked in from the Channel country.
Good to catch up with Stephanie Whittaker from Burnett Livestock and Property at Biggenden. Steph and husband Lance make for a formidable team in the Burnett. Steph is responsible for the smooth internal running of the successful operation.
Steph was the 2011 Mike Nixon Award winner (now the ALPA Fairfax Media Agency Award) and travelled to Canada in 2012. She has been a strong advocate of the award and has been both a state and national judge. She joined the ALPA Northern Regional Advisory Committee in 2013.
“The Wide Bay Burnett has had a dry winter with plenty of frosts and most areas are now looking to spring storms to kick off new growth,” she said.
“The region had previously had a fairly good summer growing season so most producers are doing ok, however that spring rain would be most welcome. We have had a few smaller falls of rain over the last fortnight but it has been patchy.
Cattle sale numbers have been quieter this year compared to previous years for the business.
“This time of the year is generally a slower time as we start calving and we look to spring rain to start laying weight and bloom on the cattle,” Steph said.
“Having said that the market picked up after some rain a fortnight ago and has continued to remain stronger than the previous month.”
Biggenden Saleyards has been very fortunate to receive funding from the Australian Government through the Regional Jobs and Investment Package towards the redevelopment of the yards. The $3.7 million project will see the Biggenden Saleyards completely rebuilt and be here well into the future.
Queensland company Thompson Longhorn has been engaged to undertake the project. Stage 1 of the project is well under way with a new double deck loading ramp, two new drafts, a new plunge dip, 15 holding pens and 78 new selling pens being built.
The rebuild is being undertaken in four stages and should be completed in March 2019.
“We are still in full selling mode while this redevelopment is progressing, holding our fortnightly cattle sales,” Steph said.