24 Feb 2016

High prices, good growth cut cattle sales

9:54 am on 24 February 2016

High beef prices and a surge in pasture growth has led to the cancellation of two cattle sales in Gisborne, a farmer and former stock agent says.

In January, two cattle sales were cancelled because there were not enough stock.

Barrie Gordon has worked in the cattle industry for more than 60 years and said only a few sales had been cancelled in the major cattle breeding region in all that time.

He put the the cancellations down to a combination of factors.

"The circumstances in this particular year, a so-called El Nino year, are that we have less cattle because we've planted tens of thousands of acres in pine trees, which has reduced the number of breeding cows," he said.

"On top of that, we've had the most massive grass production that, in all of these years, I have seen in a January/February period.

"Cattle prices have been highly satisfactory and farmers are holding on to their animals to gain weight."

Times had also changed, Mr Gordon said.

"In my day I have seen yardings of up to 10,000 steers and ... 3000 to 5000 heifers on a Tuesday, and that circumstance has totally disappeared.

"We had a cattle fair last Tuesday. It was 976 head, normally we would have expected 1500 to 2000, at least."

However, it was good news because farmers would get higher returns with more weight on the animals, he said.

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