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Livestock Market Update: Callum McDonald: the eyes and ears of the farmer
8 July 2021

Livestock Market Update: Callum McDonald - the eyes and ears of the farmer

Born and raised on a Southland sheep and beef farm, Callum McDonald is Livestock Genetics Representative for PGG Wrightson in Otago and Southland.

After leaving school, Callum spent a few years in Dunedin, gaining a Bachelor of Science from Otago University. However, he always knew what lay ahead.

“One way or another farming was always going to be in my future, and this opportunity came up in 2008, after I’d done a couple of other farming related jobs. 

“Dealing with farmers on a day to day basis suits me. I enjoy the people side of it, being a part of their business. We are the eyes and ears of the farmer, saving them from having to traipse around the country looking for a ram or a stud bull. It is our job to find the genetics they need to help improve their herd or flock, and therefore their business. 

“If your client is successful, that’s when you find satisfaction,” he says.

Covering a fair percentage of the South Island, from the Waitaki south, and on the West Coast as far north as Fox, Callum clocks up around 70,000 kilometres per annum. 

“There is plenty of variety, in the climate as much as anything. On one hand the Southland plains have excellent grass growth in the summer, though are cold and wet in winter, whereas other parts of the region are dry and warmer. One size doesn’t fit all in this region, in fact every farm and every farmer is different,” he says.

Land use change is another ongoing story in the region.

“In the past 20 years several districts have gone from traditional sheep and beef to move heavily into dairy. That changes the opportunities for farmers. We sell a lot of yearling bulls in the spring now, which we never used to. Genetics is a long game, not something you can turn on or off overnight,” says Callum.

Serving such a large and varied region, from home base at Myross Bush just out of Invercargill, means staying well organised.

“You can’t be everywhere. You can’t wake up in the morning and decide what you’ll do that day. You need to plan in advance, tackle it area by area, and have good relationships with the livestock reps to help out as well,” he says.

Relationships and good planning are where Callum reckons to add value for his clients.

“Every farmer is an individual, and every farm is different. I treat each one as a unique business to find what works for them. My advice is ‘make a plan and stick to it.’ You need to work out how to improve your business, though you also need to know your faults and work on fixing those: don’t just try to change for the sake of it.

“Using genetics is part of the bigger picture, though there are plenty of other influences that you need to incorporate, including location, the environment and management practices. Genetics is the start of it though: assessing how that farmer works, what advantages they might have and finding the opportunities to change or to improve what they are doing.

“It’s a long game. Next year’s selling season starts the day after the final sale of this season,” says Callum.

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Livestock Market Update: Successful diamond jubilee sale testament to enduring relationship

08 July 2021

Two-year-old bull sale marks 60 years of breeding and business association spanning the generations.

Atahua Angus held its two-year-old bull sale in mid-June, marking 60 years of breeding for the Kiwitea, Manawatu stud.

After a presentation from Angus NZ board member Andrew Stewart commemorating the Diamond Jubilee, 43 registered buyers competed for 33 lots, resulting in a total clearance, with a top price of $19,500 and the bulls selling on average at $11,924. Most lots sold locally to commercial farmers, though a few studs were represented at the sale and a contingent of East Coast farmers attended, attracted by the consistency, power and muscle for which Atahua bulls are renowned.

Atahua owners Alan and Michele Dalziell say the stud’s long relationship with PGG Wrightson is a key part of their enduring success:

“When Alan’s parents Verdon and Elsie Dalziell established the business in 1961, they worked with FCDC, which subsequently became Dalgetys and eventually PGG Wrightson. 

“Bill Stewart was Verdon and Elsie’s rep in the early days, and through PGG Wrightson we are still with the Stewart family today. We remember Callum here as a little boy, coming along to the sale with his dad Bill. Wind forward to the present and Callum Stewart has run the auction prior to this year, while his brother Maurice Stewart is our main contact. 

“Sam Wright did this year’s auction solo, after sharing it with Callum last year. He did a good job, keeping the sale’s momentum moving along. He has a strong voice and held it really well, with the bids coming thick and fast.

“We also have a tremendous relationship with the girls in the office, who come out to do all the admin for the sale. They say: ‘I hope you are having your apple shortcakes again this year.’ It is an easy, comfortable, and good relationship.

“If there is anything we want, it’s done straight away, which makes a big difference to how you operate. It’s a relationship that has endured through the generations.”

Callum Stewart was the PGG Wrightson rep for Atahua Angus before he became National Genetics Manager, Maurice Stewart is the Area Livestock Manager based in Feilding, dealing most frequently with the Dalziells’ commercial sheep and cattle operation, while Ryan Shannon and Sam Wright are both from local farming families.

Callum Stewart, PGG Wrightson Livestock National Genetics Manager 


Livestock Market Update: Go-Stock removes financial pressure from farm decisions

08 July 2021

“When you don’t have a huge amount of capital Go-Stock works beautifully”

Matt Thomas finishes beef and lambs on 230 hectares in South Wairarapa. He uses Go-Stock to remove the financial pressure from farm decisions:

“We finish around 8000 lambs through Go-Stock and use it for around 250 weaner steers.

We started using Go-Stock about five years ago. All the land we farm is leased, so we don’t have a huge amount of capital to underpin the operation, meaning Go-Stock works beautifully.

“For beef, the bank balance can hold you back from making the farming decisions you need to make. Money going out at a crucial time can make life difficult. Because we didn’t have the operating capital to start with, Go-Stock was a perfect fit. With the price of lambs growing, there was no way we could do the numbers that we wanted to do. 

“Go-Stock can suit any level of farming, not just those starting out. It’s purely a way to take financial pressure out of decision-making. You can fill gaps at certain times of the year. For us, Go-Stock was a no brainer.”

Since 2016 PGG Wrightson’s Go-Stock has put 1.4 million lambs and 220,000 cattle on farms throughout New Zealand.

Operating for sheep, cattle and now deer, Go-Stock eases cashflow on farm: PGG Wrightson buys the stock and retains ownership, meaning no initial cash outlay for farmers. Farmers then graze and grow the stock before deciding, in conjunction with us, when and where PGG Wrightson will sell them. PGG Wrightson pays any resulting positive trading margin to the farmer, less fees and selling costs.

For more information about Go-Stock speak to your PGG Wrightson livestock representative or click below to visit our website.

Livestock Market Update: Go-Stock Article Find out more tile


Livestock Report: Calf Sales Successful in Taranaki

13 August 2021
Listen now as The Country’s Jamie Mackay is joined by PGG Wrightson’s Taranaki Livestock Manager and auctioneer, Andrew Gibson, to talk about New Zealand’s livestock market.

Calf sales have kicked off with the Taranaki Cattle Fair, with cattle trading going reasonably well. Gibson says that they have been going flat-tack.

Mackay queries the demand around bobby calves this season. Gibson notes that they have been trading at a realistic value at around $80-100 per calf.

Mackay visited up Taranaki way earlier in the year, and commented on the lack of sheep. Gibson adds that there aren’t that many sheep around, especially with land values.

Gibson talks about the impact of recent weather flurries and despite this, farmers are doing a great job “they are a hearty bunch and they do a good job.”

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