Bull market charges forward

That's the sentiment being expressed by commercial cattlemen as surging confidence in the beef industry, driven by strong cattle prices, delivers a purple patch for seedstock producers.

A quick glance at some benchmark sales held across southern Queensland over the past month shows a marked increase in nearly all sale averages, with most over $5000 a head.

Clearance rates are also up, with many vendors who struggled to offload 70 or 80 per cent of their 2014 offering, now selling close to 100pc of the draft under the hammer.

Most of the spring sales have so far been held in southern Queensland but the trend is expected to continue for the big central sales, such as the upcoming Droughtmaster National and Brahman Week in Rockhampton.

"The few sales that have been held around central Queensland have been pretty strong and the fact that the commercial market is so strong is giving people extra confidence," said Josh Heck, SBB, Rockhampton.

"People certainly seem to be chasing bulls after a few hard years.

"While they are getting more for their commercial cattle they seem prepared to reinvest in some better genetics.

"It's good to see for the stud vendors who have been through some pretty lean years."

At the Roma Brangus Sale last Friday, where the average was up more than $1000 on the previous year, GDL stud stock agent Mark Duthie had figures to back up the upward trend.

"We sat down the other day and compared the sales to last year," he said.

"This time last year we had a $3500 average with 70 per cent clearance and already this year we are at 90pc clearance and an average of $5500," he said.

"One factor driving the bull sales is that old bulls are worth so much."

Roma Landmark agent Rod Turner confirmed that cull bulls had made as much as 305c/kg or $2800 in Roma recently, and said large numbers of bulls were selling for 280-290c/kg.

"There are plenty of bulls making $2000, which is a pretty good trade-in," he said.

"It has been great to see the strength of the bull sales. Even the most recent sales are $1000 to $2000 dearer (average) compared to those sales at the start of August."

Even in the drought-ravaged central west, bull sale results have surprised buyers and vendors.

Hereford and Charbray bull breeder Scott Bredhauer cleared 76 per cent of the offering at the Lambert Sale at Blackall earlier this month for an average of $4250.

"We were hoping for a reasonable clearance but we didn't expect to average that high," he said.

"Our regular clients are doing it very tough so we were quite relieved."

The Bredhauers had reduced the number for sale in anticipation of tough times but hadn't counted on a rebounding cattle market.

"Some areas aren't doing it as tough as out here, but even those who are have a lot more confidence in prices," Scott said.

"They can justify holding on to breeders and the expense of bulls to put in with them.

"There's also a feeling that there might be a lot more competition next year.

"Some people are thinking they'll get in before an expected price rise."

- Additional reporting: Sally Cripps and Helen Walker.
Story Queensland Country Life Thursday, September 10, 2015