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Dry weather makes for tough going at livestock market

Livestock agent Dan Sullivan says market conditions are better than they might be, given the “snowball” effect of disastrous weather.
Livestock agent Dan Sullivan says market conditions are better than they might be, given the “snowball” effect of disastrous weather. Arthur Gorrie

"IT'S a tough old game at the moment," livestock agent and auctioneer Dan Sullivan said yesterday.

But he said results from yesterday's Gympie sales seemed to show a sneaking optimism among buyers, or at least a willingness to take a punt.

"The meatworks are full - they're booked ahead about four to six weeks," he said.

"The feedlots are fully booked and the paddocks are dry.

"People want to sell their cattle, particularly young cattle. It's hard to find homes for young cattle at the moment."

But Mr Sullivan said some very selective buyers appeared to be taking a punt on things turning around - which is what sometimes happens when circumstances could no worse.

"It probably went a bit better than some sales," he said, as he studied the paperwork at his Gympie Saleyards office yesterday afternoon.

A gentle spit of rain did not seem to dampen buyer optimism, but was far from enough to fill dams or make grass grow.

But the possibility of real rain from Cyclone Dylan did seem to inject some buyer interest into a difficult market.

"Among store cattle, the quality sold quite well," Mr Sullivan said.

"And there was great demand for some of the better quality breeder females.

"They sold particularly strongly in a dearer market.

"One fellow came from Grafton to buy some heifers. He bought about 40.

"They're a great investment if you have pasture and water.

"There's eight to 10 years of breeding you can get out of them.

"Some buyers were probably taking the opportunity to put together some better breeders at lower prices during tough times.

"We sold about 1200 cattle.

"Everyone's hoping for something out of the cyclone that's going to help, hoping there is some benefit.

Cinnabar cattle grazier Michael O'Neil said production costs were through the roof for many farmers.

Those without irrigation were parched and those with irrigation were suffering higher power prices which were making production unviable.

Cattle markets had a bad year with the live export ban, drought and a big slump in demand through 2013.

"Everything sort of snowballed," Mr Sullivan said.

"It's a hard one to call, with a lot of cattle in the market and the smaller ones difficult to shift."

But there were buyers, "a fair few."

"Surprisingly enough there was quite a good roll up," he said.

"A few people are punting on the weather, thinking it's going to change."

Such a change was not on the immediate horizon yesterday, however.

The nearest days of probable rain are Sunday, Monday and Wednesday next week, according to the latest Weatherzone forecast for Goomeri.

Topics:  drought gympie livestock rain weather

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