More than 4700 head of black cattle with a smattering of red and white swelled Tenterfield saleyards on Thursday with producers forced to offload stock ahead of a dry winter.
Keen purchasers, however, were numerous, sending weaner steers and heifers from Naracoorte, South Australia, to Winton, Queensland.
Best Angus steers with Speriby North blood produced by Tony Christophersen and his manager Michael Maher, Emaho, at Sandy Flat, brought 305.2 cents a kilogram going on feed at Wickham Farms near Killarney, where the season for grass has not been kind.
Buddy and Duane Statham, Yandarlo, Condamine, bought 170 steers to grow out for the feeder market, paying up to 297.2c/kg for Angus, 234kg, with Nairn Park blood from Neville and Sue Grogan, Gardiners, Tenterfield. The first time buyers at Tenterfield reported 50mm of rain on half their property with grass growing and grown cattle leaving which presented an opportunity.
Bob Jamieson Agencies at Inverell were in the market for the better steers, buying through Kieran te Veld, paying 290.2c/kg for Angus from Woodbine Partnership, Tenterfield, while Brendan Kelly from Kellco, Dalby, bought plenty including a neat B-Double load or 120 head in three pens for 299.2c/kg from the Grogan family.
Alan and Vicki Schroder, Glenoak, on the Tarbine Road fought with 14 other local landholders to save some paddocks from bush fire earlier this month but lost 80 hectares in the process, frustrated by Rural Fire Service policy to protect infrastructure not grass.
"The local guys knew what they were doing, it was the blokes from Sydney," said Alan who has been feeding cattle for the past month on the last of cotton seed meal from last year. However, the Schroders were rewarded with a sale of Angus, 275kg, 294.2c/kg or $808 going to Bob Jamieson Agencies.
Prices from Angus cross cattle, or black baldies dropped away quickly with less intense interest from the feeder market, with a pen from the Willcocks family, Warawee, selling for 214.2c/kg to grass finishers from Glen Innes.
A pen of black steers from the Tindall family, Sunnyside Springs, sold for 277c/kg to Kellco while the black baldies and red cattle from the same pen sold for 209.2c/kg.
Lighter cattle were penalised compared to their heavier counterparts but found a ready market through agents in Leongatha, Gippsland, Victoria, and Mt Gambier and Narracoorte, South Australia, as well as Meandarra, St George, and Winton, Queensland.
Jason Mahney from PPS&H at Naracoorte, SA, said the tablelands cattle provided an opportunity for restockers to grow them on. Another buyer reckoned this moment in history provided one of the better reasons to buy in for as little as a third of what was going out the gate right now as a grown steer.
The best heifers sold to 222.2c/kg from Neville and Sue Grogan, going east to the Richmond Valley as breeders. Another pen of the same, 243kg sold for 185c/kg to Chris Gibbins green paddocks at Dorrigo, through his Ray White agent Tim Bayliss, where they will be put to the bull and sold in calf.
Brian Berridge sold Angus 106 heifers, 228kg for 201.2c/kg or $457 to Graeme and Liz Stirling, Pittsworth, Qld, where they will be fed on post harvest sorghum stubble. The season on their part of the Downs was saved by a fall of almost 200mm before Christmas. Mr Betteridge later bought back in paying down to 140c/kg for light Brangus heifers which will be grown out on grain for the butcher trade.