The cattle market was not quite such good news with small store yardings, although prices were steady if not spectacular.

The rain arrived at last in June.

It was too late for any meaningful grass growth but it filled dams and freshened pasture for winter stock.

At Stortford Lodge store lambs continued their remarkable rise.

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The shortage of autumn growth and big numbers on offer made no difference to the demand as 35kg to 40kg male lambs hit the $160 mark. The week before the same lambs made up to $155.

Some of the lambs on offer were on their second trip through the saleyards as some finishers ran out of feed. However, because the store prices are so good they were still able to make a good margin by selling them rather than finishing them later.

Those finishers with crops or new grass were able to keep buying after the rain but much stock went to Waikato or Manawatu buyers with a Northland buyer particularly active at one sale.

A notable feature was the big yardings with one reaching about 12,000 head. Most of the lambs came from Hawke's Bay but there were also big entries from Taupo and Gisborne vendors.

PGG Wrightson livestock manager Neil Common said the news for lambs would get even better with meat schedules expected to rise even further in the spring.

Prime lambs also continued a slow but steady rise during the month. The best of them around the 40kg to 50kg mark nudged $200 and sometimes passed it. The quality noticeably improved as well.

The prime ewe market continued on a steady note. Yardings increased as scanned-dry ewes began to appear. Buyers paid a premium for heavy ewes and lighter ewes could be hard to sell, especially if any of the regular buyers were absent.

In-lamb ewes began to appear as the result of farm sales. The best of them made $211 but most of them were around the $160 to $180 mark.

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An early terminal ram was a clear plus for buyers.

The cattle market was not quite such good news with small store yardings, although prices were steady if not spectacular. Common said farmers were possibly keeping their cattle to put more weight on them as there was plenty of supplementary feed around to do so.

In the prime markets angus steers weighing in at more than 600kg broke the $3/kg mark. Good cull cows also sold above the $2.20 mark and most of them topped $2/kg.
Common said farmers were at their winter stocking levels and hoping for a good lambing and calving.

More rain was needed but not until the spring warmth arrived to boost grass growth.
There was plenty of hay and silage available to keep stock fed after the wet summer which removed a pressure on farmers.

Common said lamb finishers could look forward to $9/kg contracts. "Expect to set new records in the spring," he said.

There was an international beef shortage because of droughts around the world, which was good news for New Zealand.

All meat schedules were likely to rise by the ends of this month to provide a positive outlook for everyone, he said.