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Old 25-02-2011, 05:57 AM
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Kelly Kelly is offline
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Default Restock or sell ask cattle operators what to do after big wet season

Restock or sell? That's the dilemma now faced by many cattle operators when they study the cow calf market.

On the one hand, plentiful feed brought on by a wet season provides the incentive to finish cattle and sell them later.

But those wet conditions follow years of drought and cattle numbers are low, so restocking must be a priority for many.

And with a particularly strong young cattle market and dear weaner prices, cows with calves offer this conundrum for restockers: they might pay more for a cow with calf than for a weaner steer, but is there more margin in the cow with calf?

Buying a cow with calf unit not only provides the calf, but also has the ability to breed, lifting the restocking rate.

National Livestock Reporting Service (NLRS) cattle market analyst, Tom Mannix, says buying cows with calves allows a breeder to continue restocking beyond the saleyards.

"If you can buy a cow and calf then you can also get another calf from her in nine months," he said.

"And after such a long period of dry, people are looking to restock."

Mr Mannix said weaners, at their present high prices, were simply not affordable for some buyers, so cows with calves represented another option.

It would be ideal to hold on to cows to get as many calves as possible, making the restocking process less expensive than buying weaners.

"But people are weighing up whether to hold on to them in order to get a calf out of them and restock or to sell them because cow prices are pretty good," he said.

"As much as they want to hold on to rebuild, they also need a cashflow in order to pay back the bank manager.

"It really depends on their personal circumstances."

McCarron Cullinane director, Peter Eccleston, Orange, said a quality line up of cows with calves were on offer at the first Central Tablelands Livestock Exchange (CTLX) monthly store cattle sale of the year last Friday.

"It ranged from some very good quality heifers and first calves, right through to older cows and some lighter, plainer cows for those who have the feed and want to put the weight on them," he said.

"I think there are also those looking to restock to get their numbers up."

Mr Eccleston said there had been a true cross section of buyers at the sale in the market for cows with calves.

"You've got the fatteners, the traders and the breeders as well," he said.
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