WE CONTINUE with show season in the north western plains and local show societies are surviving on bush spirit and determination.
The drought roundabout, a feature ride for the past couple of years, is still operating in all northern areas of the state and hasn’t stopped for anybody to hop off.
It slowed down a couple of times and we all thought we would get the chance to alight and try another ride. No such luck. I noticed that a couple of societies have made the move to cancel their shows.
Many clients have destocked to the point of only having core breeders left. Hay movements have escalated in the past three months as we reach the colder part of the year.
This is an indication that many have decided to try to maintain the stock they have left rather than compete to secure breeders at perceived higher rates when the season breaks. Much of the hay coming into our district is being sourced from north-western Victoria and South Australia.
With recent welfare issues highlighted, reflection needs to be given to the importance of our saleyard centres.
Of the varied marketing options which have evolved over the years, saleyards have been the constant and the price barometer for most producers and their agents. In times like this, they still provide an option for resolution for many graziers anxiety.
Other forms of marketing require more planning, preparation and livestock evaluation. At the moment, most are making decisions on a week to week basis. Backlogs in the processing sector aren’t compatible with most producers sale requirements as sale centres are indicating.
Trips to some major centres in our region reveal that the percentage of prime stock would be lucky to account for one fifth of the yardings.
That means sellers have finally given in to the season before they can’t shift their stock. The highest clearance rate at the moment is in the saleyards.
So spare a thought for all the people involved in the process. The livestock carriers, the agents and their stockmen, the saleyard managers and staff, the feed and scanning contractors.
On the whole, these people are doing a fantastic job in very trying times to look after and present the stock for sale. These people have been entrusted by you, the producer, to shift your stock onto the next person or processor in the chain.
The industry has certainly come a long way since the days of “out of sight, out of mind”.
Much of this improvement can be accredited to animal activist groups. They have highlighted issues that needed to be addressed and the industry has acted, on many fronts.
Now, more than ever, it will be extremely important for rural Australia that the integrity of our saleyard system is maintained. This starts with producers ensuring they monitor stock carefully before selling.
Don’t shift your problem onto somebody else. Responsibility also lies with those very same activist groups to realise what a major part saleyards play in the fabric of rural communities and how important a vehicle they are to the general welfare of both stock and their producers, especially in these exceptional circumstances.
There needs to be a measured and considered approach by these groups, be it saleyards or export, to welfare issues and resolutions and moreover, wider implications.
Remember, the mental welfare of our producers is just as important.
As a matter of interest, Coonamble agents have been unable to hold a sale since May 2017. Depleted numbers have restricted our opportunities and deprived local producers (and the wider region) of this very important service.
This centre was once in the top six selling centres in the state.