STRONG SALES: 2020 could be remembered as a watershed moment for cattle price stability in what turned out to be a bumper year for sales.
STRONG SALES: 2020 could be remembered as a watershed moment for cattle price stability in what turned out to be a bumper year for sales.

CQ Livestock Exchange’s dominant 2020 sales

In a rare good news story from 2020, Regional Livestock Exchange (RLX) saleyards across the nation have enjoyed a bumper season of higher cattle prices, which were predicted to continue in 2021.

Managed and operated by AAM Investment Group (AAM), Gracemere’s Central Queensland Livestock Exchange (CQLX) was among eight RLX sites throughout Queensland, NSW and Victoria, that processed more than 640,158 head of cattle and 1,860,032 sheep in the last calendar year.

The positive outcome was the culmination of national herd rebuilding efforts, favourable seasons in key production areas, demand for quality genetics and improved weather conditions.

RLX general manager of operations Cye Travers said the strong sales volume was supported by RLX’s adaptability in the face of COVID-19, and ability to provide a stable and safe selling environment to ensure no sales were postponed or cancelled.

While the pandemic would be how many remembered their 2020, Mr Travers predicted the cattle industry may reflect on the year as a watershed moment for price stability.

“I think the industry will look back on this year as a turning point for prices,” Mr Travers said.

“The challenges the industry has faced coming off the back of drought, then dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic, proved selling rates are stable at this higher level.

“This could be the year where we see the end of the big peaks and troughs, and those extremes may be removed to make way for more sustainable prices for years to come.”

Stud sales

Mr Travers said market growth was particularly strong at CQLX over the past year – evident throughout a string of bountiful Spring bull sales.

“CQLX stamped its authority as the premium stud selling facility and was home to higher sale averages and clearance rates compared to previous years,” he said.

“The industry as a whole was focused on reinvesting in the genetic base of their cattle, which very much contributed to the higher averages experienced.”

Prices for sires peaked during the Brahman Week Sale in October at $210,000 for Clukan Boabab, a Grey Brahman that smashed CQLX’s own bull sale record by $60,000.

Georgie Connor calling bids at a CQLX Stud Sale
Georgie Connor calling bids at a CQLX Stud Sale

Prime and store sales

CQLX also broke recent records at its Wednesday Prime and Store Cattle Sale in November, reaching 572.2c/kg for GJ and LG Eiser’s line of Brangus steers – the sale came off the back of four consecutive weeks where the price per kilo record was broken.

In total, CQLX processed 140,643 head of cattle throughout the year.

In NSW, the freshly redeveloped Inverell Regional Livestock Exchange (IRLX) reached 41,389 head, Hunter Regional Livestock Exchange (HRLX) 29,645, Tamworth Regional Livestock Exchange (TRLX) 93,840 and Central Tablelands Livestock Exchange (CTLX) 104,112 cattle. Further south in Victoria, Northern Victoria Livestock Exchange (NVLX) peaked the yearly totals at 150,239, Central Victoria Livestock Exchange (CVLX) had 55,561 and Corangamite Regional Livestock Exchange (CRLX) processed 24,729.

The Elders team in action at the Droughtmaster National Bull Sale
The Elders team in action at the Droughtmaster National Bull Sale

Growing flock

Records also tumbled in the sheep industry, as CVLX, the largest undercover sheep sale in Australia, capped off its 2020 with history-making throughput at its saleyards.

The CVLX Sheep and Lamb sale processed more than 68,000 head at its December 15 sale, where the top pen of lambs peaked at $289/head.

“Hitting that throughput number was a great way for the Ballarat region to cap off 2020,” Mr Travers said.

“It’s a testament to our team, and the combined selling agents at CVLX, for a sale of that scale to all run smoothly and for them to have handled similar numbers for a few weeks in row.”

In total, 1,331,240 sheep were processed at CVLX. In NSW CTLX processed 360,960, TRLX 130,561 and IRLX 37,264.

Wallace Gunthorpe,
Wallace Gunthorpe, "Tarramba", Banana and Julian Laver, Nutrien Ag Solutions Rockhampton, pictured with a line of Brahman steers purchased by Mr Gunthorpe for 378.2c/Kg, averaging 326kg at CQLX Gracemere on June 10, 2020. Picture: Contributed

Online bidding clicks

A notable trend across all eight sites, was the increased take up of online sales through StockLive, the online bidding platform used by RLX.

Mr Travers believed this trend would be upheld for years to come, but stressed online bidding would not replace the competitive transparency of in-person sales.

“2020 has taught us physical auctions will always be a mainstay of our industry, and with the add-on of online bidding it means vendors and buyers can have the best of both worlds – it ensures all participants are getting the best price on the day for livestock,” he said.

Morgan Harris, TopX Gracemere, pictured with a pen of 12 Brahman cows for the price of 279.2c/kg, averaging 609kg to return $1700 per head at CQLX Gracemere on June 10, 2020. Picture: Contributed
Morgan Harris, TopX Gracemere, pictured with a pen of 12 Brahman cows for the price of 279.2c/kg, averaging 609kg to return $1700 per head at CQLX Gracemere on June 10, 2020. Picture: Contributed

Looking ahead

As 2021 has arrived, Mr Travers said RLX’s focal points would be continued investment in industry-leading animal welfare throughout all operations.

“AAM invests heavily in the training of our staff to ensure we can offer the greatest experience to both vendors and livestock when they attend our facilities,” Mr Travers said.

“Annually, we run low-stress livestock handling schools with varying experts from across the country. We are pleased to lead the industry in adopting these techniques.

“Animal welfare is vitally important, both from the wellbeing of the animal point of view, and for adding value to the supply chain.”

Also on the horizon, is a fresh focus on more sites gaining full certification for Meat Standards Australia’s (MSA) requirements.

“About 48 per cent of the Australian beef industry is now MSA graded and we will work to improve access to this market at our saleyards for all vendors and buyers,” he said.

“We see this aligning with our overarching animal welfare goals, yield outcomes and improved eating quality.”

CQLX manager Gavin Tickle with the Queensland Shadow Ministerfor Agriculture Tony Perrett and Australian Brahman Breeders' Association manager AnastasiaFanning.
CQLX manager Gavin Tickle with the Queensland Shadow Ministerfor Agriculture Tony Perrett and Australian Brahman Breeders' Association manager AnastasiaFanning.

Site breakdown

  • CQLX: 140,643 cattle
  • IRLX: 41,389 cattle and 37,264 sheep
  • TRLX: 93,840 cattle and 130,561 sheep
  • CTLX: 104,112 cattle and 360,960 sheep
  • NVLX: 150,239 cattle
  • CVLX: 55, 561 cattle and 1,331,240 sheep
  • CRLX: 24,729 cattle
  • HRLX: 29,645 cattle

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