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14 February 2020

The Livestock Report 13 February 2020

Peter Moore, GM of PGG Wrightson Livestock joins Jamie McKay on the country.

He says coronavirus and drought is combining to produce a perfect storm and a gridlock which is putting downward pressure on prices.

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18 February 2020

South Island Sheep & Beef

Shane Gerken - South Island Livestock Manager

The bulk of the on farm lamb sales are now completed, overall the lamb sales have gone reasonable well, as there has been good buying support throughout the South Island especially cropping farmers who are starting to purchase.

The ewe market continues steadily for ewes trading in the paddock. Twotooth ewes continue to sell, generally prices are $200-$250 with some good lines making over $300. Annual Draft ewes are selling in the range of $130-$170.  

The store cattle trade is quiet, with those selling having to lower their price expectations to meet the market. Would-be vendors are hanging out for improved conditions and are not willing to offload stock on a soft market. The declining beef schedules and long waits for kill space hasn’t helped the overall situation.


North Island Sheep & Beef

Matt Macfie - National Livestock Sales Manager

After a fantastic run right up into December it has been a challenging start to the year in the North Island. Great weather for summer holidays unfortunately means challenging times for our farmer clients now experiencing drought conditions across nearly all parts of the Island. Having recently visited with the Northern team in Whangarei I got to see and hear the on the ground situation and water is in very short supply across the north. Kaikoke and north of there has literally dried up with schools and meat processors being closed for part of the week due to lack of water. This region is desperate for water and as I write this report there is still nothing in the forecast that suggests anything different in the near future.

And of course added to the dry conditions is the impact the Coronavirus  is having on our export markets. This has put a strain on available space for processing and schedule prices are falling back quickly. While the impact has been serious and immediate if we look to similar instances (SARS outbreak) they don’t usually have a long term lifespan and once the issue has been dealt with demand and price can very quickly come back to similar levels.

Talking with the NI team there is general acceptance that the livestock we would have normally already traded by now is still on the land and waiting for both rain and processing space to become available. This means that while the larger volumes are not currently moving, at some point they will and we will then be inundated with volumes.

We all look forward to that happening!



Jamie Cunningham - National Dairy Sales Manager 

With the dry conditions throughout the North Island and the Flooding in Southland it would be fair to say that things are becoming quite challenging for our clients and our dairy beef market is feeling the impact of this.

Its pleasing to see that in the last week a large number of export heifers have gone into quarantine and that the affects of the Coronavirus hasn’t had an impact on this to date, the export space is very competitive at present and the demand for the rising one year heifers is looking to continue for the foreseeable future, this is a very valuable market for our clients and something that we need to support as much as possible as the cashflow ability of this should not be underestimated.

Dairy forward contracts are starting to come in well now and we have seen a large increase over the last few weeks, to date values are holding on very well on the forward sales and the quality stock are well sort after. As we deal with the dry conditions its very important that we are proactive with our vendors and have discussions around cow condition early and that we support both vendor and purchaser through this process. If you do have surplus dairy livestock to sell, cows or heifers please contact your local PGG Wrightson agent.

One of our biggest challenge at present is works space for cull cows as the meat processors are at capacity with chiller space its very important that you plan ahead and get space booked well in advance (currently can be 3 weeks plus wait).

As we look forward to the Autumn rain and cooler weather, we hope that all parts of the country have a speedy recovery as that will enable farmers to get setup for the Winter.



Callum Stewart - National Genetics Manager

If your looking for an alternative in your breeding strategies, coming up this month on the 27th we have a Major Flock Reduction online sale which will be hosted by Bidr - our virtual sale yards. Elite Charollais have the biggest diversity of the breed in genetics than any other breeder, these sheep are well known for meat quality and yield. Please click on the link and if you would like to know more don’t hesitate to get in touch. https://bidr.co.nz/auction/189

Our Genetics team have set up a Facebook and Instagram page so head on over and give us a like this page will consist of latest sale updates, company news, and industry insights – see you there!

Wiltshire’s are currently in the spotlight and offering people another alternative, this breed has become popular amongst farmers with the ability to fully shred, resistance to FE and performance and phenotype. I think no matter what your looking for in your program - the genetics in the wider agriculture industry have shown good attributes and always looking at advancing.

While we still have a handful of Ram sales to go in March, this is a prime opportunity to be talking with the specialists around your breeding programs and also your bull requirements moving forward, we can offer sound advice and the latest insights to help build robust future proofed systems.

Three animal health considerations for beef calf weaning

01 March 2020

Weaning date is often driven around calf weaner sales with many calves sent directly to sale yards. For those farm systems where significant numbers of calves stay on the property, then the following needs to be considered.

In dry summer conditions, feed quality and quantity can become restrictive to optimise calf liveweight gain as they start competing with their mothers for every blade of grass. This situation may also 
lead to increased worm burdens prior to weaning.

To help determine the need for drenching in these situations, collect some fresh calf faecal samples for a worm egg count. This information can help with strategic drench decisions. Lower egg counts indicate a low adult worm burden, so drenching can be done at a later date.   

In some situations where cattle stocking rate is low, the worm challenge to the calves is negligible and drenching at weaning may not be required. Leaving calves undrenched also introduces more refugia to pastures where they graze through the rest of the autumn.

When drenching beef calves it is best to consider using a triple oral combination drench, for example Alliance®, to have the highest chance of effectively killing the worm population in the calf and slowing the development of drench resistance.

The timing of the subsequent drenches depends on stocking rate and whether they are grazing amongst sheep and/or going on crops. Where the worm challenge is lower, drenching can be spread out to every six to eight weeks.

Another important decision is to start a clostridial vaccine programme in these weaned calves to protect against tetanus and other sudden death disease. Any calves given a 5-in-1 vaccine at calf marking needs to start the programme again as the gap between this first dose and weaning is too long for optimal boosting effect. So use Multine® at weaning and then give the second dose four to six weeks later. For optimum protection, the vaccination programme needs to be completed before major diet changes onto high quality forages or crops.  

Lice control can be achieved by using Blaze® Pour-On at the same time as giving the oral drench. The active ingredient in Blaze (synthetic pyrethroid) is an effective drug against lice in cattle. By treating in autumn, better population control is achieved than waiting until peak lice populations occur in mid-winter, and more variable drug uptake occurs due to thick winter coats, often covered in mud.

By focussing on the above three main animal health issues, optimal performance from your beef weaners this autumn can be achieved. Call into your local PGG Wrightson store or ring your local Technical Field Representative to discuss your autumn animal health programme.


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