THE first week of online cattle sales on AuctionsPlus for 2021 saw a smaller offering of 3837 head, with summer storms received across many regions over the Christmas/New Year period curbing numbers. With the reduced supplies, demand remained robust, with the overall average clearance rate hitting 85 percent. In line with the past week’s weaner feature sales, young cattle sold to a very strong market, with a new AuctionsPlus heifer record set at 815c/kg.
Southern Queensland was the largest listing region for the week, offering 716 head, followed by the Northern Tablelands and Hunter regions of NSW, with 430 and 310 head, respectively. Purchasing was also dominated by Southern Queensland, with the region securing 722 head. While commercial sale numbers were back slightly for the week, Auctions Plus was active, interfacing weaner sales in Victoria, South Australia and Western Australia – a total of 16 for the week and one additional online-only weaner sale.
Farmers are banking on an ever-increasing market to get a return after paying “never seen before” prices for young cattle at sales in Victoria this week. Each year the state hosts a series of “weaner” cattle sales, which kicks off in the first week of January. Young, recently-weaned cattle are sold to buyers who will continue to feed them and grow them until they reach full weight. However, increased competition has led many to suggest this year’s sales are the best, or most expensive, ever — prompting fears that beef farmers might struggle to make a profit at the other end. The extra demand has, in part, been attributed to buyers travelling to Victoria from Queensland and New South Wales, where farmers are seeking cattle to restock their paddocks after years of drought.
Features of Weaner Cattle
Key actions Assess the fertility and fecundity of your herd using cow condition score and heifer liveweight within the confines of a limited joining period. Select cows capable of conceiving within two mating cycles to maintain a 365-day calving interval. Select healthy, fertile bulls for mating to achieve normal conception rates and a condensed calving pattern. Supervise calving, particularly of heifers, to increase live calves born. After weaning, cull all cows who required intensive calving assistance or failed to rear a calf. Use age, weight and condition score of cows as indicators for earlier weaning. Aim to wean calves when the efficiency of pasture use is greater for the calf alone than for the cow–calf combination. Use yard weaning to lift cattle productivity. Use higher heifer retention rates to increase selection pressure on cow herd.
Uses/benefits of Weaner Cattle
Calf meat for human consumption is called veal, and is usually produced from the male calves of Dairy cattle. Also eaten are calf’s brains and calf liver. The hide is used to make calfskin, or tanned into leather and called calf leather, or sometimes in the US “novillo”, the Spanish term. The fourth compartment of the stomach of slaughtered milk-fed calves is the source of rennet. The intestine is used to make Goldbeater’s skin, and is the source of Calf Intestinal Alkaline Phosphatase (CIP). Dairy cows can only produce milk after having calved, and dairy cows need to produce one calf each year in order to remain in production. Female calves will become a replacement dairy cow. Male dairy calves are generally reared for beef or veal; relatively few are kept for breeding purposes.
Prices of Weaner Cattle
$700 to $800