Thursday, December 7, 2023

ACROSS THE RAILS: Chathams lambs still selling

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Chatham Island’s livestock have been caught up in the covid-19 lockdown but two solutions have emerged – one for the North Island and one in the South. Shipments of livestock from the Chatham Island’s arrive at Napier and Timaru and are traditionally sold via Stortford Lodge and Temuka sale yards. 
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In a typical year boats arrive about every fortnight, bringing mainly lambs and store cattle. 

The journey takes two or three days depending on sea conditions and the stock are grazed out to freshen up.

In Hawke’s Bay, Chatham Island’s stock are largely managed by Ken Simpson from Redshaw Livestock and having seen the writing on the wall earlier in the year he opted to postpone shipments. 

“A month before lockdown we were making plans. 

“We had a feeling that something major was about to happen and opted to postpone the boats to avoid stock arriving from the Chatham Islands and finding no market to absorb them.” 

Lambs, in particular, need to achieve a price that covers transport costs and the local lamb market was already feeling the impact of a very dry summer and was about to be broadsided by covid-19 and the subsequent lockdown. 

The last shipment came into Napier port at the end of December and was sold pre-lockdown in early February. With consecutive boats postponed the next shipment is due in Napier on May 2 and would have been offered at the May 13 Stortford Lodge sale, which is still the plan at this stage. 

“There are not huge volumes coming over at this time of year so we had some flexibility around postponing the boats, even with conditions on the islands very dry. 


“For the next shipment we’ve asked vendors just to send their best stock – decent-sized lines of one age group and sex and so on – so that if for some reason the sale yards are not available then these will hopefully find a market in the paddock,” Simpson said.

South Island company Peter Walsh and Associates has taken a different approach with the support of the Chatham Island’s vendors. 

Boats have continued to arrive at Timaru and the first shipment from April 8 are the feature of PWA’s first LiveBid on-line lamb auction. 

Peter Walsh said the vendors did not hesitate to use the online auction platform. 

“The vendors can sit and watch their lambs being sold for a change. They are happy with how their stock look in the videos and can watch the auction. 

“They think it’s great.” 

The auction opened on Tuesday and closed on Friday with livestreaming from 1pm. 

On the Chatham Islands it is a real novelty to be able to see their stock sold without making a big journey to do so and Tony Anderson from Wharekauri Holdings is very supportive of LiveBid. 

“It was very innovative of Peter Walsh and the team to come up with LiveBid. 

“We did not want our lambs sitting around on grazing for an extended period and it was great that they were able to come up with a competitive way to sell our lambs.” Anderson followed the auction for his mainly Romney wether lambs with interest and said the videos and commentary give buyers a good understanding of what they are being offered. 

The LiveBid auction achieved a full clearance after spirited bidding with the top Romney and Romney-cross wether lambs making $97-$112 with second cuts $81-$87. Ewe lambs and lighter Perendale cryptorchids sold for $72-$75. 

A second boat docked last Tuesday and a decision will be made later on how that shipment is sold but if the LiveBid option proves successful it might well find a place selling Chatham Island’s stock. 

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