More than 1000 steers sold on a strong market at the first weaner cattle fair of the year at Stortford Lodge this week.
Most of the top-quality offering of angus and angus-cross breeds broke the $4/kg mark with prices between $4.05 and $4.45 common.
Last year's top price was $3.82/kg.
The good growing season was reflected in both the standard of the cattle and strong demand for them to eat plentiful grass.
Buyers were from Hawke's Bay, Wairarapa, Rangitikei, Taupo, Taihape and Ashburton.
Grass growth sees farmers hold stock
An abundance of grass kept stock out of the Stortford Lodge saleyards in February.
Numbers were down for every class of stock as farmers held on to stock to increase weights and eat surplus grass and for two prime sale days there were no cattle at all.
Prime ewe prices have been particularly strong as the market was underpinned by demand for the Chinese New Year. This festival has passed but demand and prices remain strong as China continues to buy along with markets in Eastern Europe.
PGG livestock manager Neil Common said ewe prices had risen $30 to $40 a head since the beginning of the year when they had already risen steadily during 2017.
Ewe numbers on offer fell steadily in February as farmers have culled their flocks before the ram went out.
Numbers were also down in the prime lamb pens. The quality of some of the offering was also down at times. The prices received were a reflection of the quality of the offering with most pens making more than $120.
Store lamb prices remained steady during the month. Although numbers were not great some big station lines appeared. Tukemokihi Station, Wairoa, and Kahuranaki Station, near Havelock North, put more than 1000 lambs in at once.
It was in the cattle sales that the shortage of stock showed. Prime cattle were in very short supply as farmers held on to them to clean up longer grass. Prices remained strong for quality heavy cattle.
Store cattle prices also remained strong in February so the margin between store and prime is not enough to persuade farmers to sell stock they would have to replace.
Mr Common said this season had been one out of the box. Consistent rain all over Hawke's Bay, much of it from thunderstorms, kept the grass green and stock gaining weight.
"We expect a dry summer in Hawke's Bay and this year we haven't really had one."
He said farmers were feeling positive and hopeful of a good autumn. Lamb and beef breeders were having a good time with store lambs making from $90 to $110 and up to $1000 for good weaner steers.
Processing space could tighten next month as cull and dry dairy and beef cows come forward.
Also two short weeks for Easter and Anzac Day could see a shortage of space of lambs, he said.
March also sees the beginning of weaner cattle sales.
All weaner steers, Rangiora Farming Trust, Tutira, 45 ang-here, av weight, 258kg, 425c/kg, $1100/head; 25 the same, av weight, 221kg, 444c/kg, $985/head; 35 ang, av weight, 263kg, 431c/kg, $1135/head; Rangitane P/ship, Taihape, 20 ang, av weight, 315kg, 412c/kg, $1300/head; 30 the same, av weight, 285kg, 429c/kg, $1225/head; 39 the same, av weight, 266kg, 427c/kg, $1140/head; 17 the same, av weight, 230kg, 434c/kg, $1000/head; Two Peaks, Mangatarata, 15 ang-here-fries, av weight, 275kg, 385c/kg, $1055/head; six here-cross, av weight, 287kg, 412c/kg, $1185/head; The Dome, Farm Rd, Waipukurau, 30 ang and ang-here, av weight, 269kg, 424c/kg, $1140/head; 28 ang, av weight, 216kg, 436c/kg, $945/head; Taikura, Porangahau, 40 ang, av weight, 277kg, 440c/kg, $1125/head; 20 the same, av weight, 214kg, 421c/kg, $905/head; G and J Fisher, Tangoio, 27 ang-here, av weight, 247kg, 427c/kg, $1055/head; eight here and here-cross, av weight, 271kg, 405c/kg, $1100/head; six here, av weight, 231kg, 436c/kg, $1010/head; Black Oak Ltd, Waihau, 32 ang, av weight, 277kg, 423c/kg, $1175/head; 31 the same, av weight, 233kg, 440c/kg, $1030/head; Freethlands, Salisbury Rd, 30 ang, av weight, 229kg, 447c/kg, $1025/head; Wynne-Lewis Farming, Porangahau, 16 ang, av weight, 245kg, 432c/kg, $1060/head; Top Rocky Trust, Whakapirau, 31 ang, av weight, 193kg, 460c/kg, $990/head; 14 the same, av weight, 154kg, 504c/kg, $780/head; 10 ang-here, av weight, 204kg, 421c/kg, $860/head; five ang-here, av weight, 173kg, 445c/kg, $770/head; Rotowai Trust, Omakere, 19 ang-here, av weight, 256kg, 441c/kg, $1130/head; eight here-cross, av weight, 231kg, 438c/kg, $1015/head; six ang-here, av weight, 209kg, 430c/kg, $900/head; S and P Harper, Puketapu, 16 ang, av weight, 252kg, 432c/kg, $1090/head; 20 the same, av weight, 203kg, 431c/kg, $875/head; six ang-here, av weight, 257kg, 404c/kg, $1040/head; The Heath, Aorangi Rd, 24 ang, av weight, 266kg, 434c/kg, $1157/head; Maaka Farm, Waimarama, 23 ang and ang-here, av weight, 225kg, 444c/kg, $1000/head; 14 the same, av weight, 199kg, 431c/kg, $860/head; 10 ang, av weight, 180kg, 448c/kg, $80/head; five ang and ang-here bulls, av weight, 228kg, 333c/kg, $760/head; 11 ang and ang-here heifers, av weight, 153kg, 395c/kg, $505/head; Glenburn Trust, Waimarama, 17 ang, av weight, 291c/kg, 423c/kg, $1235/head; Franklin Farm, Waiohiki, 19 ang and sth dev, av weight, 227kg, 427c/kg, $970/head; Prins Family Trust, Puketapu, 11 ang, av weight, 260kg, 414c/kg, $1080/head; five the same, av weight, 226kg, 418c/kg, $945/head; Glendoone, Crownthorpe, 13 ang, av weight, 226kg, 413c/kg, $935/head; 13 the same, av weight, 190kg, 447c/kg, $850/head; eight the same, av weight, 263kg, 399c/kg, $1050/head; R and S Farming, Whakapirau, 21 ang and ang-here, av weight, 234kg, 428c/kg, $1005/head; W Feetham, Roys Hill, 16 ang, av weight, 224kg, 433c/kg, $970/head; A and C Milligan, Pakipaki, 15 here-fries, av weight, 244kg, 410c/kg, $1000/head; six the same, av weight, 207kg, 395c/kg, $820/head; BR and AE Farming, Otane, six ang, av weight, 221kg, 412c/kg, $915/head; six the same, av weight, 174kg, 419c/kg, $730/head; Waipapa Farm, Argyll, six ang-here, av weight, 286kg, 392c/kg, $1120/head; Morice Hakowhai Trust, Puketapu, nine an g, av weight, 281kg, 390c/kg, $1100/head; Prins Tullyfergus, Maraetotara, six ang-here, av weight, 290kg, 395c/kg, $1150/head.