QUEENSLAND buyers helped lift prices at Friday morning's Virbac Weaner Challenge and sale in Tamworth, which drew about 4400 head of cattle.
Quality at the event, at the regional livestock exchange, was good despite the season being "very testing for a lot of producers", judge Richard Sadler said.
And a third name has been added to the honour roll of winners of the annual challenge in its sixth year.
The champion pen of steers and overall champion weaners were produced by George and Sue Lyon of The Springs, Nowendoc, with their 22 charolais-angus cattle.
The champion pen of heifers was from the estate of John Thompson, and Mary Thompson of Niangala, and comprised 20 herefords.
Mr Sadler said that all the yardings were "typical good-quality cattle, the season playing a big part in a high percentage of the calves being probably not up to their normal weight".
"The pen I gave first place was exceptional in any season and a credit to the breeder," he said.
"The pen of heifers was very nice … and it would be good to see them go on to be future breeders."
The first-time judge and JBS livestock buyer said that, if weaners were "not up to the weight they normally can get up to, [it's] not a reflection of the breeding - it's the season".
The event has been won by only two parties in its previous five years: the Halings from Woolbrook for the first four, and the Higginses from Nowendoc last year.
Neither had cattle in the sale this year, however.
Strong market after 'anxious time'
Tamworth Livestock Selling Agents Association (TLSAA) president Chris Paterson said: "The market's been good … stronger than expected".
"The numbers drew a fair few Queenslanders here and they helped the market a fair bit," he said.
"They came from around Dalby and Roma; they'd seen the opportunity to get some good numbers and good runs of cattle ...
"The top weaners made $915 and the middle run of weaners were about $600.
"It's a bit cheaper than previous years, but the cattle are a bit lighter because of the conditions."
The association had earlier described the lead-up to the event as "an anxious time for producers and agents, with the market experiencing some big losses this week as the offload of stock sees numbers hit record levels".
Virbac area sales manager Andrew Mulligan said such events were the company's "bread and butter" and a chance to help producers find ways to maximise their results.
"These events are where the results of our products come through," he said.
"It's tough out there, and we want to help producers do the right things to help them get to market."