Weekly genetics review: Buying bulls on Gumtree?

Genetics editor Alastair Rayner, 30/01/2024

INVOLVEMENT does not always equate with understanding.  This is particularly true in the beef industry.

It is common to talk with experienced producers who know their businesses extremely well, but have less confidence or knowledge of other sectors within the industry.

At the same time, it is equally common for the industry to use language, terms and quite often jargon that are not necessarily understood by all industry participants.

One of the biggest challenges as a result is that it becomes easy to make assumptions about a business or a sector. These assumptions can result in confusion that can be corrected easily with some research or talking to others in the industry.

However on a different level, these assumptions can lead to individuals or businesses being overlooked, not considered, or even neglected by the majority of the sector or even the broader industry.

The seedstock sector is not immune to this challenge. This is evident in a number of recent online discussions taking place in social media forums and at industry field days.

New bull marketing channels

It is easy to assume that producers looking to purchase new bulls would know to contact an agent or a breeder directly to discuss their needs for the season ahead. While that may be commonplace, there is a growing population of producers who take their needs and questions directly online.

In some cases, these requests are made through breed promotional groups or to bull breeders with an active online presence.

While many seedstock breeders would see this as a logical progression to traditional forms of marketing and contact with buyers, there is another group of producers who bypass this process altogether and search for their next bull online through classified advertising pages or platforms.

Online digital marketplaces like Gumtree are perhaps not considered to be the first option producers would choose in their search for new sires or replacement breeders.  However, with a large population of new producers constantly entering the industry, many of these new-comers may approach their buying and selling of livestock in a very different way to what is seen as more traditional options.

Gumtree’s livestock section shows no less than 510 listings under the search term, ‘bulls.’

For example, Gumtree’s livestock section (see illustration below) this week shows no less than 510 listings under the search term, ‘bulls.’

While there is nothing inherently wrong about this approach, it does open up some interesting observations for the broader industry and for seedstock producers.

In the first instance, buying and selling online is another transaction, similar to paddock sales. The vendor has the option to set their own prices and describe their product. As with any paddock sale or private transaction, both the vendor and purchaser have to consider their approach to risk surrounding payment and delivery.

One of the risks associated with livestock transactions via online digital marketplaces like Gumtree is to ensure that requirements such as NLIS transfers are completed correctly. These transfers along with the legal documentation that accompany livestock movements can often be overlooked.  In many instances it is possible that newcomers to the industry, and who consider purchasing livestock in this way may be unaware and in breach of industry or state legislation.

Among some within industry, there is a temptation to dismiss this as a small issue that isn’t worth major consideration. However, this would be to dismiss some clear risks to the broader industry.

And for bull breeders, there is the risk of possibly overlooking or disregarding an opportunity to market genetics to a new clientele.

The broader risk to industry lies in both the issues of non-compliance with requirements such as NLIS transfers and in the potential for cattle to be sold that are non-suitable for breeding due to health or physical defects.  It is not unusual to see bulls listed online, both on social media or on classified pages as being sold simply because they are too old, or risk being joined to offspring.

However, very rarely are these descriptions accompanied by details that may include health details, vet inspection or semen test results. The risk of spreading disease such as Vibriosis can be much higher, particularly when coupled with a lack of awareness of the reproductive disease risk among both vendor and purchaser.

It is easy to focus only on the risks that are associated with these transactions. However, there is also very clearly a group of producers who are both looking to buy bulls online, and more importantly seeking advice and assistance in their decisions. The opportunity for established seedstock producers lies in addressing these demands.

Engagement in discussion and breeder groups

Social media is not a new platform, and many seedstock producers do have a presence online.  However, some breeders manage their presence more effectively than others.  Engagement in online discussion and breeder groups is one of the more effective ways to interact with new producers seeking advice and direction.

Engaging in online discussion that is both constructive and helpful does lead to greater credibility for a breeder’s individual brand and can be a very effective way to steer a producers search away from a bull in an online classified advertisement and towards a sire that may actually achieve a better outcome.

Although new producers may gravitate towards social media and online searches, again it is important not to assume this is the only avenue for engagement. There is a strong and growing demand for practical field days and information sessions.

Some new beef producers may be unaware that they can contact and engage with seedstock producers. Some may even feel intimidated and reluctant to approach a bull breeder directly.

Hosting events and engaging with a new group of producers can go a long way in developing not only new clients; it can also become a positive enhancement to the brand recognition associated with a seedstock prefix.

As the 2024 bull selling season gathers pace, taking time to consider all options to promote and engage with clients should be a priority for all seedstock breeders.

It’s clear not all potential clients or producers follow traditional methods to find their next bull, so thinking about the engagement opportunities outside the norm could well be a rewarding outcome for a number of breeders.


Alastair Rayner is the Principal of RaynerAg, an agricultural advisory service based in NSW.  RaynerAg is affiliated with BJA Stock & Station Agents.  He regularly lists and sell cattle for clients as well attending bull sales to support client purchases.  Alastair provides pre-sale selections and classifications for seedstock producers in NSW, Qld, and Victoria.  He can be contacted here or through his website











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