A positive outlook for pastoral farmers seems to have translated into plenty of confidence, buoyant prices and big crowds attending bull sales around the country in recent weeks.
On June 4, David and Rosemary Morrow's Okawa Polled Hereford Stud at Mt Somers in Canterbury set the record for the season to date with a bull sold to Kokonga Hereford Stud at Tuakau for $55,000.
The following week, Neil and Rose Sanderson, from the Fossil Creek Angus Stud at Ngapara in North Otago, matched that record when their top bull sold to Tangihau Station near Gisborne for $55,000.
It was the Sandersons' bestever on-farm sale with 41 angus bulls selling for an average of $7128.
Fossil Creek Hero was one of the first crop of bulls offered from American sire Spickler Chisum, whose progeny have attracted plenty of interest from buyers this season.
"To me, it ticked all the boxes and I guess that's what people were chasing," Neil Sanderson said. "It was a lovely phenotype bull, but it also had a very sound package of numbers and was from a very consistent cow family.
"All of those things put together meant it certainly attracted a lot of attention even before the sale.
"We've had a lot of stud breeders from all over the country coming through to have a look at him."
Earlier in the week Martin Farming, of Wakefield, Nelson, sold another son of Chisum for $24,000 and the day after Goldwyn Angus Stud breeder Bruce Alexander, of Makikihi in South Canterbury, sold a bull from the same sire for $48,000.
In other significant bull sales this month, The Fisher Family's Silverstream Charolais and Hereford Stud sold 53 charolais bulls for an average $7887 and 12 herefords for an average of $6167.
Their top price was for a charolais bull that sold to Timoho Charolais in Taihape for $23,000.
The bull sales season is the best and busiest time of the year for PGG Wrightson's national genetics manager Bruce Orr, who was on a road trip through the South Island last week monitoring up to four bull sales a day.
With beef cattle numbers static, if not falling slightly, through changing land use, he said the bull sales season always started with some trepidation and a few disappointments.
Market prices were strong with a lift in clearance rates and average prices at the better sales, Orr said, but some sales had dropped back in terms of both sales and averages.
No-one from stud breeders to stock agents in the genetics industry could afford to be complacent, he said.
Generally speaking, hereford breeders had had a strong season.
"Over the last four or five years the angus has ruled supreme, a view that can be substantiated by sale averages and clearances," Orr said. "But last year we started to see, and this year it has been confirmed, that some commercial buyers who have been buying black bulls have actually switched to buying herefords."
That meant hereford breeders had had better clearances and probably better averages, he said.
The main reason for the switch was a 10 per cent gain in hybrid vigour.
"Hereford bulls are certainly no dearer and probably a little cheaper and the resulting progeny are always keenly sought after."
- NZ Farmer