Wednesday, December 6, 2023

Shenley Station takes stock to the people

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Saleyard action took on a different look at some yards with single-vendor and special breed sales held at Temuka and Waipiata locations.
The Waipiata saleyards in Central Otago were full to the brim for the Maniototo Last Muster lamb sale, where tallies exceeded 17,000.
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Shenley Station managers Kate and John Hughes had one of the biggest weeks on their farming calendar recently – the sale of nearly 700 AngusPure steers and heifers at the Temuka saleyards. 

The calves came down from the hills of the 4000ha property in South Canterbury to Temuka, and though this year was the fourth offering at the yards, it was the first time the calves sold on a weight basis. 

Kate Hughes is the fourth generation on the property, taking over the reins from her parents Rit and Sara Fisher, and it was the second calf sale of their own accord. 

“We have a great relationship with our stock agent Greg Shearer [Hazlett] and he suggested weighing the calves this year as a younger buyer audience is coming through who like the numbers. It also gave us the opportunity to utilise online bidding at the yards,” she said.

Most of the calves were born in November, and until weaning ran with their mothers in a mob of 740 cows. Hughes said they are shifted every 24-48 hours into new blocks, a job that is made easier by the love affair the cows have with a mineral cart. 

Hughes believes this early training on the calves is the key to their quiet nature and it is one of the main aspects that regular buyers return for each year. Also a big attraction for buyers is the commitment by the Fisher and Hughes families to breed top quality calves, and they source their bulls mainly from Kakahu Angus in Geraldine, and also Twin Oaks Angus.  

After a good growth season, this year’s calves were in top condition coming to market and Hughes was very happy with the weights. The steers averaged 210kg and ranged from 134kg up to 259kg, while the heifers averaged 185kg and ranged from 132kg to 221kg. The top 140 heifers were not offered for sale as they were retained as replacements. 

Sale prices were very much in line with recent results.

“It is a bit harder being the last offering of the season, but they sold in line with market values at the other sales,” Hughes said.

“The whole sale was very pleasing, especially the heifers. And it is always a relief to get this sale under our belt.”

The top steers made $920-$1000 and most of the balance $715-$890. The heifers sold over a tighter range of $500-$750.

The Waipiata saleyards in Central Otago came alive on Tuesday, May 2 for the Maniototo Last Muster lamb sale. Due to popular demand, the once-yearly sale has been split in two over recent years and the two sales are aptly named the Early Muster and Last Muster. 

The mustering occurs on Otago properties that are renowned for some of the best Halfbred breeding in New Zealand and as a result these sales are keenly followed. 

The Last Muster is timed to meet the demand of mainly mid-Canterbury cropping farmers and this year there was also buying support from east and Central Otago. PGG Wrightson area livestock manager Mark Yeates said that every pen at the yards was full.

“We were working after dark to yard over 17,000 lambs the night prior. The popularity of this sale continues to grow and this year we had at least 20 vendors offering up lambs, some of which are annual lines. Buyers appreciate the big lines as well as the quality – some had 400-600 lambs in them.”

The lambs were predominantly Halfbred. Males made up 65-70% of the yarding and ewe lamb lines 15-20%, while the balance were mixed-sex. Yeates said it was expected to be a good sale, given the season.

“The feeling going into the sale was that prices should be pretty good, and returns were fully firm on expectations. It was a very solid market across all classes and there wasn’t much price difference between the Halfbred males and ewe lambs,” he said.

The top Halfbred wethers made $130-$150 and the balance $100-$125. Ewe lambs with good breeding potential returned $140-$150 and most other pens sold at similar levels to the wether lambs. A smaller portion of the offering was terminal-cross, and the prime lines made $140-$164 and store types, $90-$135.

This article was written by AgriHQ analyst Suz Bremner. Suz leads the AgriHQ LivestockEye team, including data collectors who are tasked with being on the ground at sale yards throughout the country. Subscribe to AgriHQ reports here.

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