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When he worked for Donald Reid and Co Ltd he was involved with Central Otago's first calf sale, which was held at the Lauder railway yards on March 31, 1965.
''There were eight vendors, including the Hamiltons, Milnes, Gillespies, Beatties, McDiarmids, Manns, Beckers and Williamsons and we had 420 calves,'' Mr Townsend said.
While there were regular cattle sales held, until then the beef calves - all shorthorn, Hereford, or black poll - were sold privately.
''The local agent, Reg Alderson, said he would create the first-ever calf sale in Central Otago,'' Mr Townsend said.
''As I was the junior agent I was sent to assist Mr Alderson.
''We penned the calves in the yards and then build yards around them''The railway yards were in the middle of Lauder, opposite the Lauder Hotel, and they backed on to the pub, Mr Townsend said.
Everything went well until the calves heard the steam train coming along the track, he said.
He was sent to tell the driver to take it quietly and not sound his whistle.
''But as he pulled out of the station he forgot and tooted his whistle, which upset the calves, and then the yards collapsed and the calves panicked and piled into a corner.
''It took us two hours to sort them out before the sale could go ahead.
''There were no injuries, just a mess.
''Reg was a big man and he was that wild he chased after the driver, but the train kept going to get away from him.''
A second calf sale with less commotion took place on March 30, 1966, which was even bigger, with 470 calves.
The opposition company, Wright Stephenson decided to start its own calf sale at the Omakau railway yards in 1966 on the same day. By 1967 Donald Reid, Wright Stephenson and other companies combined to build yards in Omakau.
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- by Yvonne O'Hara