Rowena Duncum from The Country talks bull with Bernie McGahan, regional livestock manager for PGG Wrightson Northland.
Bull selling season is underway. What were the results like in Northland?
Bernie points out that the season is almost at its end, with a good result so far. There's still a Hereford sale and an Angus sale to come toward the end of July.
They've seen about an 80% clearance - from Angus through to Limousin and Speckle Park - all the main breeds. Some of the better bulls have gone for stud duty in other parts of the country, some as far as the bottom of the South Island. Genetically the bulls are improving. The farmers buying the bulls are expecting a lot - and Bernie believes they're getting it.
Rowena turns to the new dairy season, now into its sixth week, and asks how the changeover has gone in Northland. Bernie declares it to have been one of their busiest years - the second-best year out of the last 15 - with a lot of cattle sold and marketed, from cows through to in-calf heifers and rising one-year-old heifers. The animals have been sold to all parts of the country. At one stage, there was a shortage of cattle to sell. PGG Wrightson sold just about everything they had on their books with the average price for a cow about 1760. In-calf heifers averaged 1600 and yearlings just under 900 dollars.
A hot topic in the rural sector is changing land use and Rowena asked Bernie what he's seeing in Northland. Bernie agrees that it is a divisive issue with forestry being the big one. He's seeing a lot of horticulture going in - mainly kiwi fruit and avocados. He's also seeing urbanisation of some land close to State Highway One. From Auckland through to Waipu, there are brand new subdivisions going in and the new motorway should be opening this year. Even Whangarei is spreading right out. As far as forestry is concerned, in the last 12 to 18 months, there's been about seven and a half thousand hectares going into trees. And he reckons some of that country doesn't deserve to have trees on it.