Stock agents and venders are getting innovative to ensure seasonal trading of livestock is occurring while traditional selling methods can’t be used.
Some sales of weaner calves and deer are being held online but others are being arranged privately by agents linking vendors and previous buyers.
Philip Wareing, who owns Arrowsmith Station in the Ashburton Gorge, had to cancel his annual on-farm weaner deer and weaner calf sales but says he is fortunate agents worked with previous buyers to ensure the stock were sold over a similar time frame to last year.
“We’re very, very happy with that but it was at substantially lower prices than last year.
“Having said that, they were good prices on the day.”
All his calves were sold and only a few weaner deer remain but Wareing says the challenge now is to quit his cull cows and freezer ewes.
“That’s a small issue now that we have got rid of our weaner deer and calves.”
The cancellation of most of this year’s weaner calf auctions in Otago means agents are working to find buyers before winter.
Rural Livestock’s Otago livestock manager Hamish Loe says last year they sold 10,000 calves over the period of this year’s lockdown with extra offerings from PGG Wrightson and Carrfields.
Loe said selling the calves privately is not straightforward because buyers can’t quit prime stock to make room because meat works are operating at slower speeds.
But linking previous buyers with venders is proving successful.
“Deals are being done but to sell 10,000 calves on one-by-one transactions without them being sighted is a long process.”
Social distancing means it is difficult for buyers to view calves and when a sale is confirmed agents must maintain separation when sorting the calves.
New Zealand Farmers Livestock chief executive Steve Morrison said his company is accelerating development of a new online auction system to let people bid live at selected sale yards auctions from their homes.
The technology is commonly used in the United States and Australia and he expects its release in weeks rather than months.
Given the Government could impose limits on crowd sizes the system would keep numbers attending sales low without restricting live participation.
“I think this has the potential to further enhance the argument that auctions should resume sooner rather than later,” he says.
David Giddings of Meadowslea Angus in Fairlie is also getting creative ahead of his annual sale of 120 recorded stud females on May 6.
An interactive page has been added to his website to show videos of sale lots, followed by a live-streamed open day with commentary from the vendors and genetic specialists.
The sale will follow a Helmsmen-style auction.
Matt Muggeridge, a co-owner of online system My Loading Ramp says his research shows upwards of 80% of farmers do not have the confidence to sell their cattle themselves.
Muggeridge says My Loading Ramp operates as a livestock tendering platform for individuals or stock firms and is especially suited to selling dairy cattle.
Sellers post a listing including photographs and relevant information about their cattle. Potential buyers make an offer for the seller to consider.