The independent online selling platform at the Temuka saleyards in South Canterbury is delivering up to 20% of store cattle purchases each event, but lower percentages of prime cattle transactions.
Coming up to two years after the Temuka Saleyards Co-operative installed a United States system called Xcira, lead operator Tatiana Hewitson said the percentage of sales made online is steadily growing.
The number of registered online buyers has reached 453, and those approved by the five participating agencies is 368.
She said Tessco, the saleyard operating company, “does not control any of the transaction finance and the member livestock agencies have to approve the creditworthiness of farmers before they can buy”.
She said prime cattle purchasing on Mondays is usually by wholesalers and meat companies, who like to attend in person because it is their livelihood.
Store cattle and the seasonal calf sales and cow sales attract a much bigger online audience, from far afield.
Remote access is the primary reason for streaming, plus market liquidity and livestock valuing, even when online farmers don’t achieve purchases.
“Their presence may bring price increments and the live-streaming shows vendors that the agents are working hard on their behalf,” Hewitson said.
“The independence of the selling platform means the five agencies can compete with each other on an even playing field.”
Live-streaming committee chair Bruce McDougall said the reason Temuka went with the US-sourced Xcira system was to be independent of the livestock companies, providing equal opportunity to all agencies.
“That neutrality is still valid as the reason for standing alone,” he said.
A planned upgrade of the sheepyards, including a weighbridge, will incorporate live-streaming equipment, and the portability will facilitate on-farm sales in future.
The saleyards co-op lost about $100,000 in income during the covid lockdowns, when cattle were sold by other means, and the live-streaming capability is insurance against similar disruption in the future.
“We are seeing that in Hawke’s Bay at the moment, where farmers are unable to leave their properties because of access issues,” McDougall said.