Livestock Market Update: Confident South Island farmers drive pre-spring livestock markets
Promising winter conditions and steady meat company schedules persuade sheep and beef farmers to maximise stock numbers.
Recent South Island store cattle sales have gone well with prices lifting as farmers position themselves to secure plenty of stock before the start of spring. Steady meat company schedules coupled with strong overseas markets and promising weather are helping stoke the enthusiasm.
Based on encouraging moisture levels in sub soils from abundant rain through the winter strong spring pastoral growth looks likely this year, particularly in North Canterbury and Marlborough, which farmers are seeking to make the most of when temperatures rise, hence maximising stock numbers.
Illustrating this, several Canterbury farmers joined their Otago and Southland counterparts, on 13 August for the Castlerock Spring Cattle Sale. This was the first sale of genuine store cattle for some time, and a test of the yearling market, which has been relatively soft. Over 1000 head were offered, including a strong presence from Nokomai Station, comprising Angus, Hereford, and Angus Cross steers and heifers. With the confident gallery motivated to purchase traditional well-bred cattle and make the most of the expected spring feed flush, prices for the top steers reached $1070 per head, for cattle estimated to weigh somewhere above 300 kilograms. Meanwhile the most sought after heifers fetched $600 to $800.
Similarly, after good demand for in-lamb ewes, and a rising schedule for lambs, as most districts are in or entering lambing, confidence is rising in prospects for sheep. While ideally continued good weather would fulfil farmers’ criteria for survival rates, it is a fine balance as steady rain has been useful to set up a promising spring.
As always, time, and the weather, will tell whether this confidence is borne out.