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Livestock Market Update: South Island bidr Staff Profiles
16 April 2021

Livestock Market Update: New South Island staff join bidr team

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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Livestock Market Update: Sam Wright - The apple doesn't fall far from the tree

16 April 2021

Proving livestock is in the blood, like any good pedigree

Sam Wright grew up with livestock. His father Dave was and still is a livestock agent, based in Feilding, so as a lad Sam was regularly either at the saleyards or taking phone messages when Dave was out and clients called.

“Being brought up in and around it, I was always interested, always enjoyed livestock, and talking to people. It’s in the blood, like any good pedigree. Callum Stewart’s father trained my dad. They say the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree,” he says.

After attending Lincoln University, he worked on a large intensive farm out of Bulls for a year, before joining PGG Wrightson in 2010 in Feilding. Following jobs in Rotorua and Waikato, he moved to Hawke’s Bay in 2019.

“Building relationships is huge in our role. Looking after clients and doing the best possible job for them. You ask yourself: ‘What can I do to improve their business?’” he says.

Sam recognises the importance of doing your homework, which flows through into conducting auctions, a part of the business he embraced from the start.

“Although not all the young guys coming through are auctioneers, having begun my career in Feilding, which has such great saleyards, providing such a good opportunity to learn, I really wanted to give it a go. I didn’t have to wait long. My introduction was at a prime sale one day. I was thrown the book, and told ‘Here you go, start selling.’ I didn’t have time to get nervous.

“To be a good auctioneer requires preparation. You have to do the rounds of the stock at least a couple of times. I think through everything I need to say during the auction, and write it out so it rolls off the tongue. Understanding the stock you are selling, studying pedigrees and bloodlines: if you properly know that, the auction takes care of itself. You need all that sorted first, then you go with the flow and respond to the gallery. Like anything else, the more you do it the more comfortable you become with it,” he says.

Sam’s biggest auction so far is the 2020 Te Mania bull sale.

“It was great to go to the South Island, outside my own patch. I was offered the opportunity to split the auction with John McKone. We sold 150 bulls, averaging around $10,000 per animal. It is a big day, well attended and with a high quality catalogue. For the stud it is the highlight of the calendar, so you are really focused on doing the best you can by them. It is an honour to be part of such an important day.

“I also took several of my own clients down to the sale. Combining the commercial side of the business with the genetics can be really useful from their perspective,” he says.

Sam enjoys the balance of commercial livestock and genetics.

“I like the variety of work. No two years are the same with livestock, and while there are definitely challenging aspects from time to time, for example droughts, when you can achieve a good result for your farmers it is a really rewarding job.”

Sam Wright, Sheep & Beef Representative, Hawke’s Bay

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: 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.
 

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