Virtual stock sales grow under lockdown

Engaging with farmers ... South Island territory manager for Thomas Mallon connects...
Engaging with farmers ... South Island territory manager for Thomas Mallon connects with farmers at the Southern Field Days at Waimumu this year. PHOTO: SUPPLIED
Virtual saleyards are becoming a useful tool for farmers selling stock.

As stock agents explore new ways to hold bull sales during the Covid-19 pandemic, is experiencing rapid growth. was launched by PGG Wrightson at National Fieldays in June last year. The platform has been made available to all stock firms during the lockdown.

PGG Wrightson Canterbury livestock general manager Peter Moore encouraged farmers to talk to their agent about selling their bulls through virtual online sales.

They could also consider small on-farm sales and private treaty sale, he said. The virtual sale website had always been an open forum, but Mr Moore said it had been opened up more under Covid-19. general manager Tania Smith said since the lockdown her team had signed up more than three times the numbers pre-lockdown.

She said the platform, which operated like a saleyard, “has been crazy, but in a good way”, since the lockdown was announced.

“It gives farmers an option for trading livestock. Our tagline which resonates with farmers is ‘we are New Zealand’s virtual saleyard’.”

Farmers needed to register a sale through their stock agent or their stock could be listed in planned auctions, including weekly North Island (Wednesday) and South Island (Thursday) sales.

Bidding on each lot was live in a 45-second slot “just like at the saleyards”, Ms Smith said. “It means farmers can sit at home and watch the sale or have their agent bid on their behalf and they can participate in a sale from anywhere in the country.”

Farmers could upload videos, photos, material and data about their livestock and answer animal health questions, just like a sale catalogue.

As of April 22, 34 bull sales had been registered with and Ms Smith expected that number to grow.

Peter Walsh & Associates has also set up a virtual saleyards option with “LiveBid”, which is available on its website. The sales feature commentary from two stock agents.

More than 760 calves from Shenley Station in South Canterbury were offered at a recent online sale, auctioneer Allister Orchard said.

Mr Moore said stock agents continued to operate under the lockdown as an essential service.

“Saleyards are off the table, but pretty much everything else we can do.”

Protocols were being developed for a possible return to saleyards as the alert level was lowered, but due to potential attendee numbers it was proving to be “quite challenging”, Mr Moore said.

The biggest issue facing farmers at the moment was a lack of “killing space” at the freezing works due to Covid-19 restrictions.

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