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Record yarding at Toowoomba sale

GOOD RESULT: Charlie (left) and cousin Anthony Smoothy were at the Toowoomba cattle sale on Monday. Charlie sold 29 charbray feeder steers at an average of 347.2c to make $1422.83.
GOOD RESULT: Charlie (left) and cousin Anthony Smoothy were at the Toowoomba cattle sale on Monday. Charlie sold 29 charbray feeder steers at an average of 347.2c to make $1422.83. Megan Masters

YOU might think dry conditions coupled with a massive supply of cattle would have a fairly negative effect on pricing but this week you would be wrong.

As something of an expert on the subject, Elders Toowoomba branch manager Darren Hartwig was surprised too.

This week the Harristown sale experienced the biggest yarding of cattle since October 2015 but prices remained strangely firm.

There were 1855 head yarded, with plainer-condition cattle easing 10-15 cents, but much of the rest of the market stayed firm, particularly feeder steers.

Mr Hartwig said the anomaly was most likely down to producers in the local area offloading cattle due to extended dry conditions, coupled with producers and processors out west feeling a bit braver thanks to recent downpours and a stronger long-term forecast.

He said cattle numbers out west were the key to the strong market in this part of the region.

"It's probably just supply and demand,” he said.

"We've got great numbers of cattle but further out they were all gone earlier from the dry conditions.

"Out west and up north they've definitely got some rain but our local area is still a bit dry.

"The cattle just aren't coming from further out for processors, so they have to travel here and that's why we're doing so well.”

But with the weather outlook for this region looking fairly grim for the next few months, the supply is likely to dry up.

Bureau of Meteorology forecaster Vinord Anand said the outlook for this month, March and April was just a 30-35% chance of exceeding median rainfall.

He said this meant the chance of rainfall did not look good in the short term as well as in the next three months.

Mr Anand said while it was normal to have hot to very hot conditions, the slightly unusual event was the prolonged period for these conditions.

"It is not unusual to see hot conditions. What is unusual is the extremes we are seeing,” he said.

The average rainfall for Toowoomba in January was about 100mm and while the city did record 93.4mm, the majority of the rainfall was during one storm at the beginning of the year.

The average rainfall for Toowoomba in February is 106mm and so far there has been none.

"The weather outlook is not good apparently, so I think we'll see more on the market locally, which could see prices soften,” Mr Hartwig said.

"The rain decides what's going to happen.

"If it doesn't rain in the next two months, the majority of our local cattle will be sold by then.”

Mr Hartwig said he expected next week's yarding to be another strong one.

Topics:  cattle prices livestock


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