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12 June 2019

PGG Wrightson Livestock Roundup - June 7

Mark Leishman talks to Bidr General Manager, Tania Smith this week. This interview focuses on what Bidr is and how it works and the official launch of the platform at Fieldays.

What is Bidr and how does it work?
Bidr is an innovative rural trading platform, different to the likes of TradeMe in that Bidr has a partnership with Agents and Agencies. Agents will be trained to become accredited assessors, adhering to the strict listing policies Bidr has.

Bidr is an alternative sale option to saleyards.

Anyone can sign up for a Bidr account, view current and upcoming sales and register for auctions. All stock will be listed 48 hours prior to the auction starting.

Currently there are 3 weekly sales happening on Bidr. Upper North Island will run on Tuesday night, Lower North Island will run on Wednesday night and South Island will run on Thursday night.

Bidr also has the option to run feature sales for big OnFarm Sales or Stud Stock Sales.

Official Launch at Fieldays
A couple of pilot runs took place prior to Christmas with the soft launch taking place in March. This gave Bidr the chance to sort any technical issues.

Since the soft launch, Bidr has had 11 successful sales with a clearance rate of 72%. 

Bidr will have their official launch at Fieldays, the team will be set up in the Innovation Centre as well as in the PGG Wrightson tent.

Demonstration auctions will run every hour and people are encouraged to stick around to see the platform in action.

There will also be the opportunity to sign up on the day.

Related Articles

Pre-lamb vaccination matters

05 June 2019

Clostridial bacteria are everywhere, including on your farm and in your animals.

Lambs are born with a low number of antibodies and rely on  antibodies in the ewe’s colostrum for protection against clostridial diseases including pulpy kidney and tetanus. In most cases, it is difficult to ensure that every newborn lamb gets sufficient amounts of fresh colostrum within the first few hours of life. So, your goal becomes maximising the concentration of antibodies in this colostrum, something you can control with a good pre-lamb vaccination programme.

The gut of the newborn lamb is best at absorbing these antibodies within the first 6 to 12 hours of life. Ideally lambs should get 50 mls per kilogram of liveweight of colostrum within the first two hours of birth, and another 200 mls per kilogram of liveweight in the next 12 to 18 hours¹. For an average four kilogram lamb, this equates to 1 L of colostrum within the first day of life and as early as possible after birth.

There are three aspects to getting your pre-lamb programme right:

  1. Timing: It is about stimulating the ewe at the right time so her antibody levels peak when she is forming her colostrum. Ideally this is about two weeks ahead of lambing, but different farms have  different management systems and lambing spread varies, so the flexibility to vaccinate earlier can be important.  Remember, not every ewe lambs on the first day of lambing. 
  2. Vaccine: The choice of vaccine used can influence how many antibodies are available to go into the ewe’s colostrum. How much is sufficient can vary depending on whether the ewe has one, two or three lambs suckling, and how much disease challenge a lamb may face. Immediately after birth, the udder only contains 1 to 1.5 L of colostrum, so if this is shared by twins or triplets the volume is divided and there are fewer antibodies(and a lower volume) present for each lamb to drink. 
  3. General wellbeing: Ewes that are in poor condition, parasitised or under severe feed stress at the time of vaccinationdo not have the energy to form many antibodies or enough quality colostrum. Making sure ewes are in good condition over the late pregnancy period is  directly linked to the success of your pre-lamb programme. 

If your flock has a higher number of multiple bearing ewes, or you vaccinate earlier (for example, to reduce the likelihood of sleepy sickness), or you want longer protection of lambs (up to fourmonths) to reduce losses through until weaning, then NILVAX® would be a preferable choice for your farm. NILVAX is the specialist pre-lamb vaccine, formulated with a powerful 5-in-1 plus an immune booster. 

If it is convenient to vaccinate the flock two weeks ahead of lambing, and you have a large number of single bearing ewes, then a pre-lamb 5-in-1 vaccine like MULTINE® or MULTINE B12® is suitable. It gives a good antibody response, and when used closerto lambing (two to four weeks), provides protection for the lambsfor up to three months. For advice planning your pre-lamb programme, contact  yourlocal PGG Wrightson Technical Field Representative. 


¹S.Peterson et al. Grazing behaviour and milk available for twins and triplets, NZ Society of Animal Production, 2006

Livestock Market Update June 2019

20 June 2019

South Island sheep and beef update

South Island livestock focus is the annual bull sales, which are in full swing.
Bulls on average are up on last year’s sale price, as farmers invest in their genetics, for on farm gain.
The last of the store lambs are being sold before winter sets in. Lamb finishers have been keenly snapping up the lambs as confidence builds for the outlook for winter/spring lamb schedules.
Store cattle pricing is subdued due to some areas not having a lot of winter feed and farmers waiting on cattle space. Once the backlog is cleared, there will be an increase in schedule pricing going into the winter for finished cattle, therefore lifting the pricing for store cattle.


Our sector has got some interesting challenges ahead of itself at present and the key focus needs to be the long-term sustainability of our Dairy industry so we can continue to contribute our vital part of the country’s export income.
Dairy livestock markets reflect the generally low morale and uncertainty in the sector. Through April and May stock prices dropped by 20 to 25 per cent, reflecting the lower volumes and inconsistent availability of feed conditions. Now dairy herds have settled and as winter progresses, those who have decided to leave the sector will already have done so, and anyone who has quality stock to sell through that period should be met with a positive reception in the market.
It’s the time of the year now for all parties to take a well deserved break and get ready for the season ahead. Who knows what the 2019/20 dairy season will send our way, but our sector is full of hard working, resilient and innovative people that as always will find the upside in any situation.
Enjoy the winter break and good luck for 2019/20 Dairy Season.


The bull sale season kicked off with the National Angus and Hereford sales held at Orlando Country and on farm in Kiwitea. It was a disappointing start to the season, because the success of on-farm sales has come at the cost of the Nationals with waning support and quality of bulls from breeders.
Although we had a slow start we have seen an upswing in the on farm sales, with most averages and clearances being on par or better than the good performances of previous years. Merchiston Angus saw a full clearance 43/43 sold at an average of $9,506, with the top price bull going to Shian Angus in Taumarunui for $31,000. This like many other sales was underpinned by strong demand from commercial farmers happy to spend upwards of $10,000 for top Genetics.

Hard feed for calves

01 July 2019

Successful calf rearing is informed by several feeding objectives: healthy calves, optimal growth, transition to becoming a functional ruminant and successful weaning.

In this article, following on from the ‘Liquid feeding in calves’ article in Rural Diary June, the focus is around step two of the calf feeding framework with emphasis on rumen development.

As demonstrated in the calf feeding framework, all calves of all ages require free choice access to good quality, clean and palatable water. Optimal growth can be achieved by offering calves free choice access to liquid feed. The challenge is that if we continue that feeding regime, the calves will look great but when the liquid feed is removed, a slump in growth rates after weaning can occur. This defeats the objective of optimal growth.

To trigger rumen development, the microbial ecosystem in the rumen needs to be established. Rumen bacteria and protozoa grow rapidly on grain carbohydrates and produce butyrate and propionate. These volatile fatty acids stimulate rumen papillae growth as well as providing nutrients for the calf. As demonstrated in the framework, restricting liquid feed to 10 percent of Birth Body Weight (BBW) in step two encourages intake of calf starter.

The crude protein requirement for calf starter is 20 percent on a dry matter basis¹. There are products with a greater Crude Protein (CP) content which are beneficial for calves raised on accelerated weaning programmes. Work done at Poukawa² found that calves fed 16 percent grower meal or barley grain had compromised average daily gains. Check the list of ingredients for highly digestible protein sources such as soybean and/or canola meal. PKE or urea can help lift the protein content of grain, however the digestibility of PKE is poor in young calves and urea does not provide any protein directly to the animal. 

Fresh calf starter should be available free choice, with troughs being cleaned out and re-filled at least once per day. Re-filling the troughs without removal of the stale feed may limit dry matter intake and growth.

Fibrous feed is also needed to build musculature, encourage blood flow to the gut, and for rumen volume expansion³. Good quality forage such as lucerne hay and/or pasture can also be introduced from approximately three to four weeks of age. Relative to their small size, pre-weaned calves have a high energy requirement. If calves consume too much pasture, the intake of calf starter may be limited and average daily gain slowed. This may extend the days to weaning off liquid feed. 

A calf is ready for weaning when she is consuming 1 to 1.5 kg of 20 percent CP calf starter for three days in a row. Regardless of age or weight, a calf consuming this much starter has enough energy and protein to keep growing, even when liquid feed is removed. Good quality pasture and/or hay must also be available.

For more assistance with reviewing the starter feeding programme on your farm, contact your local PGG Wrightson Technical Field Representative.

¹ NRC, Nutrient Requirements of dairy cattle, 200.1.
² Profitable Calf Rearing Project (99PR05); P.D. Muir, 2009.
³ Kahn et al., 2011 JDS 94:1071-1081.

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