Competition from producers at Winton, Middleton and Julia Creek looking to restock their country after February's destructive rain event helped boost prices for store steers by 20 cents/kg on similar markets this week.
Agents described the market for the 2800 head yarded as buoyant, saying the store steer market was 40 cents stronger than the weaner sale held at the Blackall yards a fortnight earlier.
"Processors were active on the right cattle but there was limited processor activity," Ray White Livestock's Andrew Turner said.
"There was healthy restocking support on store cows where the market was similar to Roma and Dalby this week.
"Store steers were 20 cents better than those sales."
Two of those in the market were David and Chris Batt, Nuken, 110km north of Winton, who lost half the cattle they had on the property, along with 60 per cent of their sheep flock.
"We were fortunate that some of our cattle were away on agistment, and our Muttaburra property, Hillview wasn't affected," David said.
They were only half stocked when 725mm fell in eight days in early February.
Having both sons in the fencing business meant the call was put out for them to return home after the rain to get fences in order.
David said his grass growth "wasn't bad" but it had been so hot since then that what had grown was wilting, with no follow-up rain.
Related: North needs more rain
They bought nine-and-a-half decks or 286 head at the sale, a mixture of poddies for between 150 and 166 c/kg, mickies for 150 c/kg, weaner steers for 182 c/kg, and cows and calves for between $450 and $800.
They were a mixture of Charolais and Angus cross, the young cattle sourced from country between Blackall and Barcaldine, and the cows and calves that had been fed cottonseed on an agistment block between Barcaldine and Aramac.
David said the breeders would be keepers while he expected to fatten the poddies and turn them round for sale once more.
"The market has gotten to where we could buy," he said.
"All those looking for agistment are in trouble, I think, because people with grass are going to buy now.
"And the people looking for agistment want 12 months and the grass isn't going to get there, unless there's more rain now."
David and Chris's nephew, Roger Batt and his wife Steph, based at Beatrice Downs at Stonehenge, were also buying at Blackall, on the back of 100mm that fell early this year.
Roger said that had come on top of storms at the end of last year and their country was looking a picture.
Prior to that the property was totally destocked but they were able to take on weaners from Roger's parents, Peter and Donna, based at Eldwick, Jundah.
At Blackall on Thursday they bought dry Santa cross cows, and cows and calves, from Peter and Therese Sargood at Tambo.
Therese, who was present to watch the cattle sold, said they were downsizing their cattle herd partly because of drought and partly because they were completely enclosed by exclusion fencing.
"We're running more Dorpers now.
"I don't know what they're eating but they're rolling fat."
She said they'd fed out 46 tonnes of palm kernel to their cattle, along with hay they'd grown and stored, but hadn't fed anything to their sheep.
"We've been at Rumleigh for 33 years and we've never seen anything like this," she said. "This is the lowest recorded rain at Tambo since records started in 1896."
She was pretty happy with the price received for the No 4 and No 6 cows considering the way the market had been sliding.
They sold cows and calves privately in January and received $850. That compared to $740 for the same unit at Blackall on Thursday.