Friday, October 8, 2010

Selling Australian Cattle

Going once, going twice sold.

One of the things that I really wanted to do while I was over here in Australia was visit an Australia auction market, and I was able to have that experience in Hamilton.

On Fridays they sell their fat cattle. About 450 head were there. The sale started at 9:30 a.m. and before 11:00 a.m. everything was sold. They sell cattle much faster than we do at home. One of the auctioneers was telling me in December they will have their big sheep days. 65,000 lambs will come into the market to be sold. Again the sale will start at 9:30 a.m. and by 2:00 p.m. everything will be sold.

One thing that makes these sales go so fast is that the auctioneer, buyers and anyone who is interested in the stock walk along catwalks from pen to pen as the cattle are being sold. Nothing is brought into a ring to be sold. This saves a lot of time, and I think would reduce the stress on the cattle. The gentlemen with the cane in his hand is the auctioneer.

After the cattle have been bought, they are ran over a scale to be weighed so the final purchase price can be determined. In Australia the cattle are only weighed after they are sold. As they are moved onto the scales they first go through a chute with a electronic I.D. scanner so the animals' National Identification tag can be read. Everything is automatic, including the gates that can be raised up and down to let the cattle into the scale "pen." By changing their entire system to an automatic one it has greatly reduced the amount of labour needed. And as it is in Canada and the U.S. it is harder and harder to find farm laborers and if you do they don't come cheap. With an automatic system they save time, money, and reduce the risk of injury.

There were two chutes that the animals could walk through, and the side panels have ID scanners in them.

Since this was a larger group of cattle they raised the middle panel (all automatic via hydralics).

I was fasinated with this part of the system. See that little black hose, well it is flexible. And the operated could press a button that would send pressurized air through it. The result was the hose would bend and flip, flop around, all while the air coming out of it was making noise and this lead to the cattle moving away from it and out of the pen. Clever.

The whole system including the I.D. scanners, automatic panels, scale, etc. was $660,000 AUS. Not cheap that for sure, but it has definitely paid off for this auction market. It was also interesting to hear how many Canadians had been over to this auction market to see the technologies they had implemented. It will be interesting to see if more of these systems will be arriving in North America.

Buyers looking at a group of cattle. See that guy in the real cowboy hat, sticking out like a sore thumb, he was one of our travel partners from Canada.


  1. What an awesome system! Thanks for sharing Crystal. I wonder how weather would affect this happening in Canada. Building covered yards or using buildings would encourage our fair weather cattle buyers to walk pen by pen when being sold! Interesting to explore ;)

  2. Wow! Please post pictures when you can, I want to see this setup!

  3. What a great opportunity, Crystal! Keep posting -- I love reading about Australian cattle ranching!

  4. Awesome pictures!! Thanks for sharing. Trust you're having a blast Crystal!


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