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26-Apr-2017 3:35am

THERE is money in beef at the moment and this year’s bull selling season proved it, with the selling season again being a bull market for beef seedstock producers.

Three consecutive years of record growth in the WA beef industry saw bull buyers brimming with confidence as they bid up and pushed prices to unprecedented levels.

The cattle market has gone from strength to strength in the past 36 months on the back of robust domestic and overseas (live export and boxed beef) demand, resulting in prices continuing to trend upwards, providing plenty of enthusiasm in the industry.

After all, producers have witnessed record breaking female sales, old bulls regularly fetching good money at the saleyards and it would be an understatement to simply say calves are producing solid returns.

So it came as no surprise when the bidding was confident from start to finish during the 2016-2017 bull selling season.

With a few extra dollars in their back pockets, beef producers rolled up to bull sales across the State ready to collectively spend more money than ever before.

That might sound like a grand statement but more than 230 bulls sold at auction in WA this year sold at or above the $10,000 mark, in comparison to last season’s 101.

But the real indicator proving things are going well for West Aussie beef producers is the overall average price returned for sires at auction this year.

Records have been broken for the last few years in a row with bull sales averaging more than $5000 for the first time in history in the 2014-2015 season, and 2015-2016 did better again, posting an average price for a sire at $5850.

But the 2016-2017 season upped the ante substantially, with WA beef producers paying an average of $6642 per sire, ensuring records well and truly tumbled.

To top it all off, last year’s overall gross at auction hit $10 million for the first time, and this season it went even further to finish at more than $12.6m for the State’s biggest ever number of bulls offered and sold.

The final result for the season was certainly more than most had expected given the previous two record breaking seasons.

The average jumped nearly $800 again this season after increasing $831 last season and $654 the previous one (up $2275 compared to the 2013-14 season) on the top of an extra 414 bulls being sold over the same period.

Looking more generally at the cattle market, there have been positives for stud breeders and commercial producers alike.

In mid-January, when the main part of the selling season kicked off, vealer beef was selling for 360 cents a kilogram and yearling beef was making 310c/kg at the Muchea Livestock Centre.

In comparison, vealer beef was sitting at 325c/kg in 2016 and yearling beef was 280c/kg, which meant this year’s prices were both up 11 per cent.

At season’s end last week, prices were even stronger with vealer beef at 390c/kg and yearling beef 320c/kg.

In comparison to the same period in April 2016 these prices are up 15pc and 10pc respectively.

The strong market is highlighted even further in the WA cattle saleyard indicators reported in the Meat and Livestock Australia’s (MLA) weekly cattle indicator report.

At the peak of the selling season in mid-February (the week beginning February 13) the heavy yearling and feeder yearlings were similar to the same week in February 2016, while feeder vealers and heavy cow beef were up 13pc and 7pc.

It reported heavy yearlings at 297c/kg, compared to 293c/kg last year, feeder yearlings were 301c/kg compared to 293c/kg, while feeder vealers were sitting at 337c/kg compared to 299c/kg and the heavy cow indicator was at 231c/kg compared to 215c/kg.

In last week’s MLA’s weekly cattle indicator report heavy yearlings sat at 314c/kg (2pc up on 2016), feeder yearlings were 336c/kg (up 4pc) and feeder vealers were 313c/kg (up 2pc).

Like saleyard prices, over the hook prices are also up on last year.

In the MLA indicator report last week grassfed yearlings were at 580c/kg carcase weight, grainfed yearlings sat at 600c/kg and MSA yearlings were at 630c/kg.

Compared to the same week in 2016 grassfed yearlings are up from 540c/kg (a 7pc rise), grainfed yearlings are up from 570c/kg (up 5pc) and MSA yearlings are up from 598c/kg (up 5pc).

But it hasn’t only been the trade market which has continued to rise in the past 12 months, so too has the weaner and store markets.

Cow-calf producers experienced another record breaking season with their heavy weaners regularly selling upwards of $1300.

In weaner sales at Boyanup steers topped at 442c/kg and regularly sold between 350-400c/kg and heifers made up to 438c/kg and sold regularly from 300-350c/kg for top drafts.

Last season steers regularly made from 300-350c/kg and heifers 280-320c/kg.

The store market has also again been very strong with Boyanup store sales regularly averaging from $1000-$1100 and grossing more than $1m.

In these sales beef steers have continuously made more than $1500 and Friesian steers have consistently sold above 270-280c/kg and even passed the 300c/kg mark.

These record breaking prices were also evident in a recent Mt Barker trade sale where Elders offered a special offering of store cattle including a quality line of Angus weaner heifers.

Prices went through the roof with a pen of the Angus heifers in the sale (362kg) selling for 472c/kg – a State record for commercial heifers in the saleyards.

Special female sales this season also saw record returns with mated beef heifers making up to $3650 a head and unmated $1825 a head.

These unheralded cattle prices were certainly at the front and centre of producers’ minds when they fronted up at sales this year.

They showed their faith in the industry and outlaid top dollar for top bulls to produce top calves so they can continue to reap the rewards that come with strong markets.

It was commercial breeders who dug deepest to secure the top-priced bulls this season ensuring their herds continue to move forward.

Of the 232 bulls to sell for $10,000 or more, about 80pc were purchased by WA commercial producers, including the season’s top-priced bull.

Last season there was 101 stud sires sold for $10,000 or more (76 sold to commercial producers), in 2014-15 there was 38 (21 to commercial producers) and in 2013-14 there was 21 (16 to commercial producers).

Included in the 232 bulls to sell for $10,000 or more, there was 42 which sold for $15,000 or more and of these, eight sold for $20,000 or more.

Bulls representing 24 beef or composite breeds were offered this season and for 19 of these breeds, WA commercial producers paid top price – again highlighting their belief in the cattle industry.

In total there were 2194 bulls offered this season and 1909 sold under the hammer to a top of $26,000, a gross of $12,679,200 and an average of $6642.

When these figures are compared to previous selling seasons they all bettered previous seasons by a country mile.

The overall average and gross figures – the actual dollars in breeders’ pockets – now rank as the best ever recorded in WA and the number of bulls offered and sold were both the largest recorded since Farm Weekly started collating records in 1997-98.

Compared to last year, which now ranks as the second best in terms of average and gross, there were 211 more bulls offered and 160 more sold, while the clearance was nearly identical at 87pc compared to 88pc last season.

The gross was up a phenomenal $2,444,800 and the average was up $790.

For a second year running the top price for the season was achieved by the Davis family’s Coonamble Angus stud, Bremer Bay, when they sold a sire for $26,000 at their on-property sale.

The $26,000 sum was outlaid by regular Coonamble buyers the Bairstow and Toovey families, Arizona Farms, Lake Grace and LT Toovey & Sons, Cranbrook, when they joined forces to buy Coonamble L66 in a half share arrangement.

Both were effusive in their praise of the bull, which was a Coonamble Hector son and out of Coonamble J207.

Rohan Toovey said the bull ticked all the boxes.

“He is soft, easy doing with a good back end,” Mr Toovey said.

“He has good spring of rib, is clean through the shoulders and has good feet.”

Noel Bairstow also couldn’t fault the bull.

“He is the best bull we have ever bought,” Mr Bairstow said.

“Structurally you can’t fault him and his figures stack up well.”

Coonamble L66 was a late March 2015-drop bull that carried a +3.3 birthweight EBV, a +45 200-day weight, +86 400-day weight and +116 600-day weight.

It had a milk EBV of +13 and mature cow weight of +105.

Coonamble thought highly enough of the bull to retain 200 straws of semen in it.

The Bremer Bay-based Angus stud backed up its top-of-the-season honours to also claim the equal second top price mantle for another quality sire which sold to Cherylton Farms Angus stud, Kojonup, at $25,000, with Coonamble retaining half semen rights in the bull.

The bull, Coonamble L56, was sired by Adrossan Equator A241 and out of Coonamble J26, Cherylton general manager Mike Cameron said the bull’s figures were a major attraction for purchasing it.

“He is in the top 10pc on genomic proof for eight traits and has a very strong phenotype,” Mr Cameron said.

Coonamble L56 was +3.8 for birthweight, +47 for 200-day, +87 for 400-day and +112 for 600-day weight. It was also +20 for milk.

Another Angus sire was deemed worth the $25,000 (equal second top price) by the Kanny family, Bonegilla Grazing, Walkaway, when they secured Tara Angus stud’s Black Tara L26 at the Gingin Multi-breed sale.

The AI-bred mid-March born bull was by USA sire S Chisum 6175 and out of home-bred cow H48.

The below average birthweight bull displayed strong maternal, growth and carcase EBVs across its balanced set of figures including ranking in the top 5pc for 200-day weight and carcase weight, top 10-20pc for days to calving, calving ease, both fats, growth intervals, scrotal, NFI-F and domestic and grassfed indexes.

The equal third top price for the season was $22,500 which was set twice at the Coonamble on-property sale paid by Murray River Farms, Waroona and the Bairstow-Toovey families partnership.

Along with these five top sires there was another three sires which sold for $20,000 or more.

The Blackrock Angus stud, Vasse, sold a sire for $21,000 at its annual sale, while at the Lawsons Angus yearling bull sale at Albany a sire made $20,000 and at the Mordallup on-property Angus bull sale at Manjimup $20,000 was also the sale’s top price.

The highest value paid for a bull that wasn’t of the black variety was $18,750 for a silver Murray Grey at Gary and Julie Buller’s Monterey on-property sale at Karridale.

The May 2015-drop Monterey Liquid Gold L79 was purchased by Rick Casagrande, RA Casagrande, Ferguson, in a three quarter share and possession deal.

The 872kg kilogram bull is by Monterey Brandy Boy H4 and out of Monterey Mannequin G110, which is a daughter of Monterey Bootlegger B216.

It is ranked in the top 1pc of the breed for 200, 400 and 600-day weights, MCW and CWT as well as top 5pc for scrotal and EMA.

Of the remaining bulls to top the $15,000 mark, nine were Coonamble sires, nine were from Koojan Hills Angus stud under new ownership in Manypeaks with the Metcalfe family, seven were at Lawsons Angus yearling sale at Albany and three were Diamond Tree sires with Mordallup, Tara (Gingin sale), Lawsons (Jerdacuttup) Angus studs all posting one.

Katanning-based Southend Murray Grey stud and the Fieldhouse Droughtmaster stud, Wickepin (WALSA Narngulu) were the only other non-Angus studs to join Monterey in the more than $15,000 category with the stud’s sale toppers reaching $17,500 and $15,500.

In terms of market share, British breed bulls like always commanded the largest percentage of bulls sold with 65pc, which was down 1pc on last year, while Bos indicus types accounted for 22pc and European 13pc (up 1pc).

And in terms of gross figures, British breed bulls contributed 72pc of the total gross, down 1pc on last season.

Bos indicus accounted for 16pc of the gross (up 2pc) and Euro bulls made up 12pc.

The Angus breed again led the way this season and was easily the biggest breed irrespective of what figure you look at whether it be bulls offered, bulls sold or gross figure.

This year there were 981 Angus bulls offered and 925 sold for a clearance rate of 94pc.

The breed again increased its market share and this year accounted for 57pc of the total gross, up 2pc, with a figure of $7,283,450, which resulted in an average of $7874.

In comparison to the previous selling season, there were 98 more Angus bulls offered and 112 more sold, while the gross lifted more than $1.629m and the average rose $919.

The top price in the Angus breed was the $26,000 overall top price achieved at the Coonamble on-property sale.

Angus bulls also accounted for 188 of the 232 bulls to sell for $10,000 or more and nine of the 10 top-priced bulls were Angus.

The second biggest breed in terms of volume of bulls offered and sold and the next closest breed to gross $1m was the Murray Grey breed.

This season there were 229 greys offered and 168 sold for a gross of $949,500 and an average of $5652.

But it was a mixed season for the breed compared to 2016 with the number of bulls offered up by 12 head and the average up by $158, while the gross was down $127,250 and there were 28 less bulls sold.

While the breed’s gross didn’t hit the $1m mark this season it was still the second largest overall and contributed to 7pc of the overall gross.

The top price in the Murray Grey breed was $18,750 at the Monterey on-property sale at Karridale, while the Southend stud sold a Murray Grey sire at its on-property sale for $17,500 to be the second best in the breed.

The Droughtmaster breed, was the third biggest in terms of gross takings as well as number of bulls offered and sold, with 154 bulls sold from 171 offered for a clearance rate of 90pc.

As a result the breed grossed $792,250 and averaged $5144.

While the number of bulls offered and sold was up only slightly on last year (seven and nine head respectively), a good season in pastoral areas combined with a good couple of years of cattle prices saw buyers prepared to pay up and as a result prices well and truly rose.

The gross beat last season’s figure by $274,000 and the average lifted $1618.

Fellow Bos indicus breed – the Brahman breed – was the fourth biggest by all the important numbers – bulls offered, bulls sold and gross.

The breed was the only other breed to sell more than 100 bulls when it sold 138 from 153 offered at a clearance of 90pc and an average of $4121.

It was also the only other breed to gross more than $500,000 when its figure was tallied at $568,750.

All the figures for the breed grew this year with 33 more bulls offered and 32 more sold, while the gross lifted $159,500 and the average was up $260 compared to last season.

In terms of number of bulls offered the Charolais breed took fifth place with 110 bulls offered.

Of these 77 sold (or 70pc) for a gross of $405,750 and an average of $5269, which was down $426 on the back of 13 more bulls sold compared to last year.

The Santa Gertrudis breed was fifth when it comes to the number of bulls sold and gross.

The breed sold 95 bulls from 97 offered for a gross of $477,500 and an average of $5026.

Last year the breed offered 124 bulls and sold 86 for a gross of $309,750 and an average of $3602, meaning the breed achieved a lift in numbers for the bulls sold, gross and average.

Of the 24 breeds offered at sales, 16 improved their average from last year with the Black Simangus breed experiencing the largest increase of $3208 for 24 bulls offered and sold, to finish with an average of $7750.

Last season the breed offered and sold six bulls at an average of $5250.

The Droughtmaster breed recorded the next biggest rise, with its average up $1618.

Other breeds to experience a rise in average of more than $1000 were Santa Gertrudis ($1424), Black Simmental ($1419), Gelbvieh Composite ($1417), Shorthorn ($1193) and Brangus ($1108).

This season there were seven breeds to record an average of $6000 or more and there was another six to record a figure between $5000 and $6000 to give 13 breeds with an average more than $5000 compared to 12 last year.

The Black Simmental breed topped the averages, with a figure of $8175, to take the mantle from the Angus breed.

Second highest in the average stakes was the last year’s average topping breed, the Angus breed at $7864.

Black Simangus was third with $7750, followed by the Hereford/Poll Herford breed at $7674 and the Shorthorn breed rounded out the top five with a figure of $6232.

Six breeds breeds secured total clearances at auction including Black Simangus, Brangus, Limousin, Queenslander, Sangus and Santa Master, although it must be noted only Black Simangus, Limousin and Queenslander had offerings over 10 head.

The Angus, Black Simmental, Brahman, Charbray, Droughtmaster, Santa Gertrudis and Shorthorn breeds also bested the overall clearance set this season at 87pc to achieve clearances ranging from 90-96pc.

When comparing the numbers of bulls offered and sold between the past two seasons, this season there were 13 breeds which sold the same number or more bulls while there were 15 which had an increased or the same size offering.

p Single vendor sales

This season there were 28 single vendor sales held, two more than last season and in some sales vendors offered more than one breed.

The total offering of bulls at single vendor sales came to 1332, compared to the 1226 offered in the previous season.

This season’s clearance was 89pc or 1189 bulls, which was up on the 1102 cleared in the 2015-2016 season.

This brought the overall gross at single vendor sales to $8,752,950, up $1,580,300 on last season’s result of $7,172,650 which was already a substantial increase on the previous season.

Single vendor sales averaged $7361 overall to post an $852 increase on last season, again fitting in with upward trends.

Like previous years, the Angus breed again dominated single vendors sales in terms of numbers and results, taking top price, top gross and top average honours.

As previously mentioned, the season’s top price was paid at a single vendor sale and it was achieved at the Coonamble Angus on-property sale at Bremer Bay for an Angus sire.

The sale also featured the $25,000 second highest price at a single vendor sale, as well as the $22,500 equal third highest price achieved by two bulls in the catalogue.

In the sale there were also another nine bulls which sold for $15,000 or more.

To recap, other sales with top prices worthy of a mention are Blackrock Angus $21,000, Mordallup Angus (summer) $20,000, Lawsons Angus yearling (Albany) $20,000, Monterey Murray Grey $18,750, Koojan Hills Angus $18,000 and Southend Murray Grey $17,500.

With a large number of prices commanding the top spots in the top price’s table it was not surprising it was the Coonamble on-property sale, which posted the highest sale average for a third year running with a figure of $10,176 for 74 sires sold from 78 offered.

The second highest average posted at a single vendor sale was $9914 for 58 from 64 head sold at the Koojan Hills Angus sale, Manypeaks.

Coming in third was the Blackrock Angus sale averaging $9163 with a total clearance of 52 bulls and Diamond Tree Angus stud, Manjimup, topped the $9000 average when it cleared 80 from a line-up of 81 at an average of $9003.

There were two other sales to record an average of more than $8000: Lawsons Angus yearling sale at Albany ($8542) and Bonnydale Black Simmental and Black Simangus ($8253) and in this sale the stud’s Black Simmentals averaged of $8542 and Black Simangus $7750.

A further six sales averaged $6000 or more to bring the total number of sales with an average of $6000 or more to 12, compared to 11 last season.

All up 17 sales recorded a lift in average and the biggest improver was the Lawsons Angus yearling sale at Albany which jumped $3587 from $4955 last year to $8542.

The next biggest rise was $2267 at the Narralda Shorthorn sale held at the Mt Barker saleyards.

Other sales to record an improvement of more than $1500 were Bonnydale Black Simmental and Simangus ($2173); Lawsons Angus Jerdacuttup ($1877) and Biara Santa Gertrudis and Sangus ($1514).

Another six sales increased their average between $1000 and $1500 and two increased between $500 and $1000.

The highest individual gross honour also went to the sale with the largest offering which was Lawsons Angus on-property sale at Jerdacuttup where the Lawsons team yarded 98 Angus sires and sold them for a total clearance and a gross of $755,750.

Just behind Lawsons’ Jerdacuttup sale in the gross stakes was the Coonamble sale with a figure of $753,000.

The Diamond Tree sale grossed $720,250 and the Lawsons yearling sale at Albany grossed $657,750, to be the third and fourth biggest.

Other sales to gross more than $400,000 were Koojan Hills ($575,000), Bonnydale Black Simmental and Simangus ($544,750), Monterey Murray Grey and Angus summer sale ($498,000), Blackrock Angus ($476,500), Little Meadows Angus ($470,000) and Mordallup Angus summer sale ($402,500).

There were above average clearances (above the overall 89pc clearance achieved for single vendor sales) at 16 sales.

This included total clearances for Blackrock Angus, Lawsons Angus (on-property Jerdacuttup and yearling sale at Albany), Little Meadows Angus, Bonnydale Black Simmental and Simangus, Biara Santa Gertrudis and Sangus as well as Crathes Park and Narralda Shorthorn sales.

p Multi-vendor sales

Across the 10 multi-vendor sales held this season, a total of 720 bulls were sold at auction from 862 offered.

Collectively these sales brought the gross sum paid at multi-vendor sales to $3,926,250 and the average calculated out at $5453.

The 2015-2016 season saw 647 bulls sold from 757 offered for an average of $4732 and the gross figure topped $3m for the first time to finish at $3,148,750, a figure which now pales in comparison.

There were 105 more bulls offered at multi-vendor sales this season and 73 more sold, alongside the average rising by $721.

There were some exceptional top prices achieved at multi-vendor sales this season.

The top price at a multi-vendor sale was again found at the Gingin Bull Sale when the Black Tara Angus stud, sold a bull for $25,000, which was also the equal second top price of the season.

As mentioned earlier, the sum was paid by the Kanny family, Bonegilla Grazing, Walkaway, for Black Tara L26.

Black Tara also sold the second top price sire at a multi-vendor sale this season as well when another one of its Angus sires was knocked down at $16,000.

The next best price at a multi-vendor sale was $15,500 achieved by the Fieldhouse Droughtmaster stud, Wickepin, for a Droughtmaster sire at the WALSA Narngulu Invitational sale.

The stud also sold sires at $13,500 and $10,250 twice in the sale.

Other top values paid at multi-vendor sales were $14,000 for a Yallaroo Hereford at the Farm Weekly WA Supreme Bull Sale, Brunswick, $13,000 for a Sevenell Droughtmaster sire at the Landmark Fitzroy sale and for a Woronyne Limousin at the Gingin Bull Sale, $12,500 for a Ponderosa Angus bull at the Landmark Great Southern Blue Ribbon All Breeds sale and $12,250 paid twice for a Cherylton Angus sires at the New Generation-Cherylton sale and for a Terraneil Poll Hereford sire at the Countryman Invitation Bull Sale.

For a third year running the Landmark Fitzroy sale claimed the mantle of the State’s largest sale in terms of yarding numbers and gross takings.

There was a yarding of 186 bulls representing five breeds in the sale which all sold for a huge gross of $890,000 and an average of $4785.

All the figures for the sale were up on the previous year’s sale when 175 bulls were offered and sold for a gross of $711,500 and an average of $4066.

The next biggest sale in terms of number of bulls sold and the gross returns was the WALSA Narngulu Invitational Bull Sale.

The offering was also the equal second largest of any multi-vendor sale for the season.

In this sale there were 129 bulls offered from three breeds and with much improved pastoral support 114 were cleared for a gross of $566,500 and an average of $4969.

Compared to last year’s sale there were 26 more bulls offered, 27 more sold, while the gross more than double and was up by $294,500 and the average lifted $1843.

Equaling the WALSA Narngulu Invitational sale in terms of number of bulls offered was the Farm Weekly WA Supreme Bull Sale where 129 bulls were offered.

However with limited buying support on some breeds in the sale only 87 bulls sold (third biggest number at a multi-vendor sale) for the season’s fourth largest gross figure of $465,000 and an average of $5345.

The third highest grossing sale was the Gingin Bull Sale where 70 bulls were offered and 67 sold for a gross of $515,000.

The Landmark Great Southern Blue Ribbon, New Generation-Cherylton Angus and Countryman Narrogin Invitation were other sales that grossed more than $250,000.

The Gingin Bull Sale may have missed out on taking top honours in the gross stakes but it led the way when it came to the averages.

The sale averaged an impressive $7687 over the 67 bulls sold.

The next best average was achieved at the New Generation-Cherylton Angus sale where 44 bulls were offered and sold for an average of $7057.

Two other sales achieved an average of more than $6000 – Landmark Great Southern Blue Ribbon ($6292) and Countryman Narrogin Invitation ($6141), while three more averaged more than $5000.

Eight sales recorded a growth in average and the biggest improver was the WALSA Narngulu Invitational sale where the average jumped by $1843.

Others to record a rise of more than $1000 where Gingin Bull Sale ($1258) and Landmark Great Southern Blue Ribbon ($1241), while those with an increase of more than $500 where Landmark Fitzroy ($719), New Generation-Cherylton ($682) and X-Factor Production ($559).

There were two total clearances this season and they were at opposite ends of the State at the Landmark Fitzroy bull sale and the New Generation-Cherylton sale at Boyanup.

The Gingin Bull Sale, WALSA Narngulu Invitational sale and the Great Southern Blue Ribbon All Breeds sale both managed to best this season’s overall clearance of 84pc to achieve clearance results of 96pc, 88pc and 86pc respectively.

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