On-line marketing right option for flat-back weaners

Jon Condon, 01/08/2011

The ability to reach a much larger audience of prospective buyers and avoiding the financial risk of hitting a ‘flat’ physical saleyards market were reasons put forward for an AuctionsPlus marketing campaign for a large line of crossbred weaners scheduled for this Friday.

Queensland stock agents Tim McHugh and Luke Westaway have put together a listing for a client for this Friday’s AuctionsPlus sale featuring almost 800 mixed sex weaners, all Charbray or Brangus F1 genetics.

The calves represent a substantial portion of the annual weaner turnoff from Pointon Pastoral Co, a grazing investment owned by businessman, Brett Pointon. The operation is based on a series of breeding properties running about 1400 females stretching from Goomeri to Kilkivan in southeast Queensland. The main holding is Gobongo, near Goomeri in the Central Burnett.

In past years, the annual Pointon Pastoral weaner turnoff was sold progressively through Toogoolawah store sales, but a change of strategy was adopted this year, for a variety of reasons.

“Aggregating the cattle into a large line sold in three-deck lots opens-up opportunities for larger buyers, and attracts attention to the quality of the weaners,” agent Tim McHugh said.

He said the recent strong track record of marketing cattle on AuctionsPlus was another factor behind the decision.

“For a line of quality young cattle like this, AuctionsPlus provides options and flexibility,” Mr McHugh said. “It has the ability to attract support from a much larger and more widespread bidding gallery. Buyers could easily take these cattle back into Central Queensland, the Roma district, or across the border into northern or Central NSW. It’s hard for any physical saleyard option to match that,” he said.

Pointon Pastoral has indicated that it plans use a single AuctionsPlus sale as an annual showcase fixture for its weaner turnoff in future years.

The cattle being offered on Friday, totalling 504 heifers and 288 steers, are all 4-6 months of age, weaned a fortnight ago, and averaging 250-260kg liveweight. Steers and heifers will be offered in large three-deck lots, averaging 108 head.

Mr McHugh said the lots would be particularly appealing to backgrounders and breeders.
“The heifers have tremendous breeder potential, being all Palgrove Charolais blood on the sire side, and out of good quality Brahman dams,” he said.

Pointon Pastoral for some years has entered into buy-back arrangements, where Palgrove has first option on the lead of the male calves (sired by specially-selected Palgrove bulls), the best of which are then selected for sale as Charbray herd bulls.

In addition to the Charbray sale component comprising 12 decks of heifers and six decks of steers, the Pointon production sale will also offer two decks each of well-bred Angus x Brahman F1 weaner steers and heifers, similar weights and description as the Charbrays.

“The strongest store market demand in the bush today is for flatback weaners, and these well-bred calves will be attractive to both backgrounders and people involved in herd rebuilding, looking for breeding heifers,” Mr McHugh said.

As a rough guide to price, at Friday’s Gracemere store sale, weaners 200-300kg sold to 230.2c/kg, making from $482 to $570. Representative pens included a line of Charbray weaner steers from Calliope averaging 230c averaging 212kg, to return $490; and a second pen of Charbray steers averaging 267kg which sold to 213c/kg to return $570.

In its recent report “Financial Performance of beef cattle producing farms”, ABARES examined marketing methods used by northern and southern producers.

When beef cattle producers in both northern and southern Australia were ranked by farm financial performance (as measured by rate of return, excluding capital appreciation) over the period 2007–2010, survey data showed differences in preferred selling methods between the top 25 percent of producers and others, the ABARES report said.

In southern Australia, the top 25pc, on average, tended to sell a greater proportion of cattle in the paddock or over the hooks and fewer through saleyards auction. In northern Australia, the top 25pc and middle 50pc employed similar selling methods, however the bottom 25pc tended to sell a larger proportion through auction.


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