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Livestock Market Update: Cam Heggie – Becoming part of each client’s business
19 August 2021

Livestock Market Update: Cam Heggie - Becoming part of each client's business

Taking responsibility for contributing to a large proportion of annual farm income.

Growing up in Palmerston North, Cam Heggie decided he wanted to go into agriculture. A short stint as a farm cadet reinforced that decision, though persuaded him that he wasn’t cut out to be a farmer.

“I went to Palmerston North Boys High and made friends with a lot of boys who were boarders, coming into school from the likes of Taihape and Hunterville. They were bloody good guys, and I thought working with people like them would be an excellent career.”

Moving to Dalgety Crown in 1986 after the cadetship set Cam off on his path in the rural sector, mostly with PGG Wrightson and its predecessor companies, with a couple of overseas stints in the mix.

From managing the Frankton Saleyards for the company, he jumped at the opportunity to become PGG Wrightson Livestock Genetics Representative and Auctioneer for the Northern North Island in 2011, a role he thoroughly enjoys.

“I love it. 

“We are not just a service, not just turning up on sale day and selling livestock. Our role is to become part of each client’s business, guiding them through their breeding programmes, advising on and helping source the bulls and rams they rely on. I gain huge satisfaction from that.

“On top of which, being part of the genetics team, with seven or eight of us throughout the country is a bonus. We are a tight knit bunch and a strong network with an excellent culture, which I am very fortunate to be part of,” he says.

Despite the high levels of satisfaction, the role contains a few challenges, not least of which is continuing land-use change through many of the districts in Cam’s patch.

“Declining breeding cow and ewe numbers are part of the landscape. Dropping numbers doesn’t make selling bulls and rams any easier. Building strong relationships with clients, and wider, becomes more important than ever,” he says.

Such a wide region has its privileges, travelling through a diverse range of country, though brings other challenges.

“When you organise a sale in Northland, where breeding numbers have particularly dropped, you rely on a large number of purchasers driving up from further south, and coming through Auckland, which of course can be hard work, so you need to make it worth their while to sit on the motorway,” he says.

Cam particularly enjoys the most high profile part of his role.

“Being a genetics auctioneer was where I always wanted to end up, and I’ve been right into that side of the job since I started my career. It doesn’t matter if you are doing one of the marquee sales, or someone less well known, if it ends up being a good day, as the auctioneer you have contributed to making a large proportion of that farmer’s annual income. It’s a big responsibility. 

“You have to know what you are selling, which takes plenty of homework. You have to understand your client and their programme, and you have to know what it will take to get the gallery going.

“When you can get all that right, it is hugely satisfying,” he says.

One particular highlight was running the auction when last year’s highest priced two-year-old bull went under the hammer: sold by Cam for Andrew and Tracey Powdrell of Turiroa Angus to joint purchasers at Kaharau and Orere Angus, the bull, named Turiroa Ragnar, fetched $104,000.

Outside work, Cam and wife Sara live on a small block at Glen Massey, Waikato, which they are slowly planting in natives. Sara has a catering business, which sees Cam helping out at weekends, and the couple have four adult children.

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

08 July 2021
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.

Livestock Market Update: Staff profile - Locky May - doing right by farmers who put their trust in him

26 May 2021

‘It’s good to see clients happy. If they are happy, that’s what I call success.’

Locky May is a member of a long established Central Canterbury farming family: previous generations have worked the same sheep and cropping property just out of Darfield for more than 150 years.

Locky is a dairy livestock representative for PGG Wrightson in Canterbury, starting in the role last December, having come through the company’s academy programme and working as a sheep and beef trainee for the previous two years.

His initial aim since starting the role has been to build relationships.

“I have learnt a hell of a lot over the last six months. Although I knew the basics, there was, and still is, so much more to learn. Farmers understand that and have been supportive. Slow and steady wins the race. I don’t want to rush in then over promise and under deliver. I want to do right by the people who put their trust in me. 

“With many farmers I say to them: ‘You’ve done this longer than me. You will teach me more than I can teach you.’

“When I have a clear opportunity to add some value or help their business, that’s where a good long-standing positive relationship comes in. I’m aiming to be the person to call for honest, reliable, helpful information,” he says.

Locky‘s high school years were spent boarding at Waitaki Boys, Oamaru, after which he worked as a shepherd for three years on multiple properties, including the iconic 8000 hectare Hukarere Station, West Otago, and Wairaki Station, Blackmount, Western Southland.

Back on home soil, he is thoroughly enjoying life as a livestock representative.

“Seeing people do well, seeing them move forward, growing their business. As a rep, if the farmer is happy you are happy. It’s good to see clients happy. If they are happy, that’s what I call success.

“Being a livestock agent is a real privilege. We see so much of the countryside, and the networking is important. If you are a social person it’s great being able to put that into your job. It’s different to the real physical side of shepherding: not being out there any longer, walking the hills every day. Although that was good, I knew I wasn’t going to do it forever,” he says.

As a Canterbury based dairy rep, Locky is seeing farmers adapt to new land and water use regulations.

“That is important in my role. With all the new environmental rules, stock numbers will have to come down. Farmers have to focus on genetics to create more production out of less cows. Part of my role is to understand that, so I can help clients and point them in the right direction to make their business as productive as it can possibly be,” he says.

Outside work Locky spends as much time outdoors as possible, supporting Darfield in Ellesmere open grade rugby during the winter, hunting whenever he can, and jet boating in the summer.

Livestock Market Update: New South Island staff join bidr team

16 April 2021

Growth continues with further expansion for New Zealand’s virtual saleyard

In line with its growth since it began operating in May 2019, bidr® recently appointed two additional team members.

Bianca Murch has joined as Upper South Island Territory Manager, extending her eight-year career in the rural servicing industry, which includes a Bachelor of Commerce (Agriculture) from Lincoln University. Bianca is based in Darfield.

Sam Murphy, the company’s new Lower South Island Territory Manager, grew up on a South Canterbury family sheep and beef farm, graduated from Otago University after studying Media, Communications, and Music, and has worked in the shearing industry for much of the last 10 years. Sam is based in Dunedin.

Click here to meet the bidr team.

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