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Livestock Market Update: Winter arrives in North Island
8 July 2021

Livestock Market Update: Winter arrives in North Island

A couple of weeks after a reasonable drop of rain in most districts, winter hit the North Island in late June with a strong polar blast dropping temperatures to low single digits. Underfoot conditions became sloppy and the weather caused several road closures.

Moisture was particularly welcome in Hawke’s Bay, under pressure following an extremely dry summer and autumn. While the region has developed a pleasing green tinge, the resumption of warm conditions is necessary to facilitate additional pastoral growth through the rest of winter to help these farmers back on track.

North Island livestock sales have been strong recently, including bull sales.

East Coast bull sales in late June were particularly strong. A determined bench of stud and commercial buyers from across the country, competing online and in person, made for some solid averages. A highlight of the week was when Kaharau Angus notched up a record on-farm auction price for a bull at $106,000.

In Northland the dispersal sale of one of the original Wagyu herds attracted plenty of attention. NZ Purebred Wagyu Ltd, founded by the late Mike McCool with the first Wagyu calves born in 1992, sold 562 head of Wagyu in late June. Held at the Wellsford Saleyards under the expert supervision of Richard Healey and the Northland PGG Wrightson Livestock team, cattle sold included yearling heifers, sire bulls and steers. Purchasers from throughout the country attended, in person and online via bidr®, with significant numbers of stock heading to the South Island. Cows sold at up to $3350. A further 450 head will go to auction next autumn, which will mark the end of an era for the McCool family.

Elsewhere the schedule is driving lamb tallies through the sales, resulting in the strongest North Island lamb prices seen for some time, while the wetter underfoot conditions and strengthening schedules are resulting in tallies of heavier store cattle coming to market.

Matt Langtry, PGG Wrightson North Island Livestock Manager

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Livestock Market Update: 42nd Limehills Roxburgh bull sale reaches new heights

08 July 2021

More relaxed sale with larger gallery than under Covid last year.

Limehills Polled Herefords in Roxburgh, Central Otago hosted one of the first events of this year’s two year old bull sales season on 1 June.

After presenting the sale last year towards the end of the Level Two Covid period, Limehills owner Gray Pannett says this year’s was a more relaxed affair with a larger gallery and a better atmosphere.

“We were more than happy with the result, with a higher clearance rate than we have ever had. While we aim to achieve the best prices possible, we also want to keep the bulls affordable for our customers, most of whom are regulars.

“Our top priced bull achieved $41,000, which is a record for us. We have a particular sire going well at present, and he was one of the offspring,” he says.

This year was the 42nd Limehills sale, and PGG Wrightson has been there all the way, albeit in the past under the Reid Farmers and then Pyne Gould Guinness brands.

“We have a long-standing working relationship and we play the long game, which also goes for our customers, including some of the big stations who take up good volumes year on year. Back when we started we were selling 20 odd bulls each year and are now at triple that level. With bidr® our reach is longer, which may in time enable our sale to grow larger still,” says Gray.

Under auctioneer John McKone, supported by commercial rep Dave Lilley and genetics rep Callum McDonald, Limehills sold 60 of 62 bulls offered at an average of $9950 per head. Aside from local Otago and Southland buyers, others came from Canterbury and the North Island, while 87 watchers and 23 registered buyers followed the sale on bidr®.


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: 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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