AuctionsPlus, 15th November, 2019
Krongart Station Manager Jamie Catlin on farm with some of their cattle
After a tough autumn, the cattle at Krongart Station in South Australia, are relishing the better spring conditions.
Manager Jamie Catlin said the herd of 750 Angus and 100 Poll Hereford breeders was now “booming along” thanks to solid winter rainfall across the 1500ha property, 15km south of Penola
“They’re looking good,” Mr Catlin said. “They’re enjoying the warmer spring conditions, a bit of sunshine and pasture growth.”
Krongart will offer up to 350 March/April-drop weaner steers for sale through AuctionsPlus in mid-December for the ninth year in a row.
Most will be snapped up by repeat buyers, the majority from the local area in South Australia and nearby Victoria. Mr Catlin said many of the buyers were backgrounders who grew the calves out to bullocks.
He added that Krongart had previously sold surplus weaner heifers but decided to retain all of them for a second year.
“Each year – apart from this year – we artificially inseminate 150 replacement heifers,” he said. “With the tough autumn this year I decided not to (AI those heifers). We’re having a good season now, so we’ll retain all of the heifers.”
Official rainfall records show just 58mm fell at nearby Penola in the first four months of the year, but this was boosted by a welcome 417mm from May to September.
“Our average rainfall is about 700mm and we’ve received about 500mm so far this year,” Mr Catlin said.
“It was a bit of a struggle in autumn, but since then it has been extremely good. We joke about our rainfall and our season, but you don’t have to go very far from here and there’s a fair bit of struggle going on.”
Last December, Krongart sold 315 of its nine to 10-month-old steers, with an average weight of 356kg, for an average price of $1236 a head.
Mr Catlin said prices were tracking at similar levels to last year and he was optimistic that the steers would average $1100-$1200 at the AuctionsPlus sale on December 13.
Despite the traditional leap in supply at this time of year, he hoped the proven performance of the Krongart steers would give buyers the confidence to pay more for quality.
Thomas DeGaris & Clarkson’s (TDC) livestock agent Jamie Gray, from Penola, said satisfied buyers of the Krongart cattle sang the praises of their temperament as well as their capacity for growth.
“The feedback is extremely good,” Mr Gray said. “They always grow out into big bullocks.”
The European Union-accredited and Pasturefed Cattle Assurance System calves will be weaned about four weeks before sale day. They’ll be assessed in early December and drafted into lines of straight black Angus and black baldies in three weight ranges; under 350kg, between 350-400kg and over 400kg.
TDC livestock agent Sam Hill, also from Penola, who has been an AuctionsPlus assessor for five years, said he also would fat score each animal as part of the process.
Mr Hill added that he expected prices to be reasonably firm this summer.
“Last year we sold the bulk of our black weaner steers for a touch either side of 300c/kg liveweight,” he said. “Depending on whether it was December or January, we got anywhere from 295 to 310c/kg. I’d expect it to be similar this year – about 300c/kg give or take – but if they get northern rain, we could see it back up to 320-330c/kg – like the year before. I wouldn’t be budgeting on that though; we’d just be hoping for it to be firm on our weaner sales last year.”
AuctionsPlus’ records for the past five years show a steep jump in the number of weaners sold through the platform, up 17-fold in 2018 and rising another 25% this year.
By October, sales across Australia had topped 244,000, driven mostly by vendors in drought-affected Queensland and New South Wales. Despite the increase in supply, prices for 2019 have held at 248c/kg to 319c/kg across the four main weight classes.