Weaner beef in demand
Good grass covers, a rising market and demand outstripping supply has seen weaner beef cattle prices skyrocket at sales all over the North Island.
The good prices started at the annual weaner steer and bull sales in Northland in early March where prices ranged from $1380 for a pen of 485kg calves to $1170-$1250.
Another pen of 352kg angus weaner calves from vendor, Hokianga Harbour farmer John Klaracich sold for $1125/head at the Kaikohe sale.
Klaracich said five years ago he would have received $650 per head for a similar pen of cattle.
PGG Wrightson Northland livestock manager Bernie Mcgahan said the quality of the weaners was strong and as a result the prices were up on last year.
‘‘Overall, there has been strong interest from buyers in both the King Country, Whanganui and Bulls areas. The animals will do well in an area that hasn’t had the dry summer like we have had up north.’’
The good prices carried on into the heifer sales with prices on some lines up by $100 and very good demand from buyers.
A typical 250-260kg pen of heifers averaged $3.50-$3.60/kg liveweight across the sales in Northland.
‘‘In Northland, we are making a name for ourselves for breeding very nice beef cattle.’’
Mcgahan said the high demand was a result of a combination of factors.
The beef schedule continued to be strong and good autumn grass covers in Waikato, King Country, Taupo and Bay of Plenty meant over half of the cattle yarded at the sales headed south over the Auckland Harbour Bridge.
There was also a low supply of quality beef animals available in New Zealand, he said.
‘‘We have seen people up here that we have never seen before and that tells me there is a shortage of cattle.’’
They included all types of beef breeds ranging from charolais and simmentals to the more traditional angus and hereford types.
Most of the weaners bought would be finished at 18 months to two years before being sold for slaughter.
The high prices achieved at the recent weaner beef cattle sales in Northland has set a benchmark.