AgriHQ: Increased demand for exotic breed cattle




Strength in the weaner cattle and calf markets during autumn has underpinned two-year-old beef bull sales in the winter, AgriHQ senior analyst Suz Bremner said. Weaner fairs in the North Island and calf sales in the South Island started with hopes high and optimism from a year earlier, which had been the second-best results in more than a decade. “Early sales were strong, but interest dropped away where regions had dry autumn conditions,” Bremner said. “Sellers had good price results, particularly for steers, not far behind 2023 levels. That was needed because of rising farm costs and lower lamb returns.”

AgriHQ has autumn sales data going back to 2010, split into steers and heifers, North Island and South Island and traditional breeds and their crosses, versus exotic breeds and their crosses (Belgian Blue, Charolais, Devon, Limousin and Simmental). Reviewing the results and having attended several weaner fairs, Bremner noticed increased demand for the exotic breed cattle both as beef crosses and purebreds. North Island exotic steers had average prices over $1000/head and $4/kg LW, favourably comparable with 2023 prices and the previous highest level that occurred in 2017. “We think buyers were looking for hybrid vigour and faster-growing crosses,” she said.

The NI results for traditional breeds and their crosses (Angus, Hereford and whitefaces), were still strong compared with 2023, and on a per kilogram basis compared with exotics. The NI traditional steer values were $3.96/kg, down 20c on 2023, versus $4.40 in 2017. SI traditional steer values dropped 30c from $3.95 in 2023 to $3.67 in 2024. Heifer values were around $3 in the SI and $3.20 in the NI. The NI exotic heifers also had a strong showing this year at $3.31 compared with $3.52 last year.

Overall, the demand for traditional heifers was not as good this year, perhaps as some farmers hold over to target yearling replacements. Also the lack of live exporting will have a dampening effect. “The outlook for beef is more favourable than lamb and I think weaner buyers and bull buyers have done their homework on low birthweights and faster growth rates,” Bremner concluded.

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For Livestock advertising, contact Andrea Mansfield, National Livestock Manager, AgriHQ.  027 602 4925.