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Central West Queensland

Cattle

9 December, 2020

Life of an auctioneer

"Being an auctioneer would give me a bit of an adrenaline rush but not as much as a bull rider taking on a fierce bucking Brahman bull."

By Gerard Walsh COLUMNIST

Warwick Saleyards

I AM three times the age of some of the young auctioneers in Queensland but would seriously like to be an auctioneer.

After leaving school, I headed home to our farm in south Queensland and studied accounting at university for a time.

I didn’t finish my degree and then increased the cultivation on our property before starting a long career as a sportswriter.

For years on the farm, I would take two packets of fruit tingles with me on the horse and chewed the lollies between makeup cricket or rugby league commentary.

Being an auctioneer would give me a bit of an adrenaline rush but not as much as a bull rider taking on a fierce bucking Brahman bull.

As beef producers, we have bought cattle from many parts of Queensland.

The biggest problem I have at cattle sales is I am an impulse buyer.

There is nothing wrong going to a cattle sale and not buying.

I once bought some cows in Goondiwindi accompanied by the CEO (my wife) and my mother-in-law.

The storms that were building up on the morning at the sale were just about gone when we went into town for lunch.

I was wondering if I went a bit too big with the purchases and rang our agent for a bit of reassurance.

I like the adrenaline rush of the auctioneer bit but there is a downside to be an auctioneer.

They have to pass on the good news about prices as well as the bad and try to work through many issues with clients at all hours.

Buying and selling livestock is a bit like the share market and the crashes almost mirror each other.

When the cattle market started to drop in the 1970s, I went to the sale determined to get $80 for weaner steers and $70 for weaner heifers.

The steers were sold first and made $81 and then I reluctantly sold the heifers for $69.

Just as well as six months later, you could buy weaner steers for $12 and we did exactly that.

I once had some newspaper shares and decided to sell then to pay for some work on the house at the farm.

The shares were worth $4 and dropped to $3.20 and no way was I prepared to cop that drop.

A year or two later, they were worth 40 cents and have never moved up again to $3.20 let alone $4.

I often think the best plan is when markets start to drop, sell before its drops too much and then buy after the markets start to rise and before it rises too much.

Down the years, we bought 70 Brahman heifers which came from Bowen and in more recent times 50 Charolais and Santa Gertrudis heifers from Blackall after seeing a newspaper advertisement.

I called in at an agent to check out cattle prices at Richmond once and have bought sheep from Moree so do get around a bit.

The sheep had nine months wool and three months later the wool topped the market for Australian Estates.

Hard to take too much credit for topping the catalogue when the first nine months of wool was grown at Moree.

The biggest excitement of selling sheep used to be selling for the live export trade.

A buyer came to our place, drafted off the sheep that met the requirements and was gone in 20 minutes.

We even had a dabble in prime lamb production.

My worst nightmare was when I was herding our two Poll Dorset rams and one died in front of me.

I got the message then that it is better to shift rams in the cooler parts of the day.

Gerard Walsh and his family run an 840-hectare beef cattle property, Coolesha, in Southern Queensland, which has been in the family since 1887. He is a recently retired sports journalist after 29 years and is now spending more time on the property.

 

 

 


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