Despite oppressively humid conditions, prices at Blackall's now-weekly cattle sale continued to escalate into record territory when a rain-reduced 1900 head went under the hammer on Thursday.
Among those to benefit by the ongoing demand were Russell and Louise Poole, Lillianfells Pastoral, Longreach, who decided to take a punt on sending a consignment of young steers in to lighten their country off.
They were hoping just to hit the 400c/kg mark but one pen of their 230kg No 9 Santa Gertrudis and Droughtmaster steers were knocked down at Thursday's sale for 466c/kg to Ray White Blackall for a client in the Taroom-Wandoan area.
"We weren't expecting that at all," a happy Mr Poole said.
Including 12 heavier steers, Lillianfells Pastoral averaged $1100 for the 117 head that weighed an average of 270kg.
While they normally like to let their cattle grow out to 300-320kg and sell in March, Mr Poole said it was a lack of good rain that prompted them to "pull the trigger" a bit earlier.
After receiving 225mm over nine days in February 2019, they had no follow-up rain for the rest of the year, and the green shoot that resulted from 52mm in January and 22mm in February was getting beaten by the hot weather.
"With only a month-and-a-half of the growing season left, we thought we should lighten off and give our country a bit of a break," Mr Poole said.
Ironically, it started raining as the truck left the property and the couple will now wait and see what weather eventuates in the next week or two before deciding their next move.
"We were probably lucky that the Roma sale was cancelled, but the yards at Blackall are a credit to the agents, as well as their initiative in going to weekly sales."
Read more: March shapes up as drier than normal
Ray White Blackall principal Paton Fitzsimons said light heifers and steers were 40 to 45c/kg dearer than a fortnight ago at Blackall, and processor competition had been very strong on the limited fat cattle on offer.
For the foreseeable future, he said the light cattle market had the potential to get even dearer.
"As roads reopen and the grass starts greening up, I think more will be trying to source cattle," he said. "Alternatively for some, it will get too dear. It will find a level."
He said the season had a 2010 feel to it, saying that realistically, they could expect a few cancellations throughout the year.
For the March 5 Blackall sale, 2100 have so far been booked, including some that were withdrawn from sale this week.
Cattle on Thursday were drawn from Blackall, Barcaldine, Longreach, Jericho, Aramac and Tambo as well as Winton, Boulia, McKinlay and Julia Creek, plus one consignment from Windorah.
The quality yarding consisted of mainly feeder and weaner cattle with a small number of prime cattle.
According to the MLA report, there was good support from the south east as well as local buyers and most categories saw a lift in prices.
Light weight restocker steers were in high demand, selling to 466.2 to average 411c/kg depending on quality.
Restocker steers, 280-330kg made to 431c to average 415c/kg. Medium weight feeder steers sold to a top of 390c to average 383c/kg.
Heavy weight feeders topped at 392.2c with most around 386c/kg.
Good quality heifers lifted in price across all weight ranges. Light weight restocker heifers were in good demand also making to 392c, with a fair sample around 355c/kg.
Restocker heifers showed solid demand selling to 370.2c and medium weight feeder heifers made to 370c, to average 355c/kg.
Grown heifers to the processor sold to 371c to average 357c/kg.
A very small sample of cows were penned with medium cows selling to 300c to average 264c/kg depending on condition.
Heavy bulls averaged 300c and sold to 316c/kg.
Ben Avery, Allandale, Blackall sold Charolais steers, with the feeder portion to sell to 390c/kg weighing 420kg to return $1638. The weaner portion sold to 440c/kg weighing 263.1kg to return $1158.28.
Corella Pastoral Co, Corella, Winton sold a run of Santa steers, with the feeders topping 382.2c/kg weighing 387.3kg to return $1445.99. The weaner portion sold to 447.2c/kg weighing 205.6kg to return $919.39.
RJ Bully, Moonamarra, McKinlay sold a very good quality draft of Droughtmaster cross heavy feeder steers to a top of 385c weighing 496kg, returning $1909.
Lambton Grazing Co, Aviemore, Aramac sold Braford feeder steers selling to a top of 392.2c weighing 404kg returning $1585.00.
Belle, Jack and Tom Crook-King sold top quality Santa steers to a top of 388.2c weighing 390kg returning $1514.
DL Mathews, Killarney, Ilfracombe sold a draft of Santa cross steers selling to a top of 440.2c weighing 267kg returning $1176.00, with their Santa heifers making 390.2c weighing 222kg returning $866.
Robert McLeod, Tambo sold a draft of Droughtmaster cross steers, selling to a top of 388.2c weighing 287kg returning $1114.
Cameron Woltmann, Lydia, Winton sold a run of Droughtmaster cross weaner steers, selling to a top of 408.2c weighing 256kg returning $1044.
KB McKeering and L McKeering, Stirling, Barcaldine sold a draft of EU Shorthorn cross steers, selling to a top of 420c weighing 218kg returning $915.
D and H McLean, Texas, Jericho sold Brahman steers weighing 270kg for 430c to return $1161, with the crossbred steers making 369.2c weighing 234kg returning $865.57.
Anthony Britton, Boulia sold Santa cross heifers to 348.2c/kg weighing 306.5kg to return $1067.23.
Bilby Haulage, Boulia sold Droughtmaster cross heifers to 369.2c/kg weighing 488.8kg to return $1804.46.
AACO, South Galway, Windorah sold a run of composite heifers to top at $324.2c/kg weighing 381.4kg to return $1236.59.
Thistlebank Grazing Co, Thistlebank, Aramac sold a draft of very good quality EU Simmental cross heifers selling to a top of 372.2c weighing 270kg returning $1002.
A and K Day, Jaccondoll, Barcaldine sold a draft of Angus heifers selling to a top of 388.2c weighing 244kg returning $949.
BD Fegan, Kelloshiel, Julia Creek sold Charbray heifers for 396.2c weighing 199kg returning $790.
Keith Hoare, Rubyvale,sold Brahman cross cows and calves to top at $1320 per unit and average $1273.85 per unit.