We've heard it a million times now - coronavirus is changing our way of life, but have you thought it may be changing some ways we do things for the better.
As we move to a virtual world and we see more people showcase and sell animals online, it is forcing us to think about our marketing programs and look at videoing stock for the first time.
Annually travelling to North America to look at cattle, attend sales or help out on ranches, I've been exposed to the world of picturing and videoing sale drafts like many other Australians.
I'm also that person that will see a picture of a bull or donor, and search endlessly for a video of them because I want to see how they move before using them. In some cases when I can't find the footage, I shy away from importing those genetics. You can only tell so much from a photo, and they can be edited as we all know, so videos are a definite step up. But why is it that so many Australian cattle producers are only now videoing their cattle?
Are we behind the times? Are we not factoring this cost into our marketing programs? Or has it just not been a demand from our clients?
Granted there are some that moved to video sales years ago, where the entire draft is videoed and they do not run any cattle through the ring, but finding footage on sale stock is definitely not as common as it is overseas.
With OHS and animal welfare always a factor influencing how we operate on farm, will being hurtled into the virtual world not only mean we see more videos of sale animals, but also more sales turning to not physically running cattle through a ring when we go back to a normal. I'm not saying we should move away from inspecting cattle in person, but the use of videos can further assist us in sorting through catalogues before we get to the sale or when comparing drafts when we return home from a farm.
Australians are always saying our cattle are just as good as what are seen in other countries and they definitely are. Videos will give us the opportunity to optimise how we are marketing our programs to a wider audience.
It is important though that we take time and care to ensure this footage is professional, accurate and consistent if we are doing a number of animals.
The whirlwind of COVID-19 has not only challenged the way we sell and buy stud stock, but it has also forced us to communicate more and have a larger level of trust.
A sense of trust, integrity and transparency when it comes to marketing a product is so important, and videos will help assist us in the quest to achieve all these things.
However there is still a lot we can't see in a photo or video, such as feet and testicles, and I believe it is paramount that vendors are ensuring they have images, scores or measurements of these on hand or are willing to collect this information at this time.
Changes to sale formats has created more work for videographers, but will this also lead to more independent assessment of stock from assessors, agents, or well-known industry breeders? Possibly. It will be interesting to see how we progress out of this, and how much of what we learn about marketing stock, communication and trust and transparency we will take with us as we move forward.