When the drought started to bite in the Longreach district and the last local cattle sale was held in May, 2014, livestock agent Richard Simpson, Simstock Rural Agencies, decided he had to change the marketing direction of his business.
And that is exactly what he did.
“We had to learn how to manage the closure of the saleyard and the drought which we thought would last the next 12 to 18 months, and not the seven years it has,” Mr Simpson said.
“An easier option could have been to follow the lead of other agents who were convincing their clients to consign cattle to other saleyards.
“But there isn’t any marketing and skill in that.”
Mr Simpson put in place a ‘paddock to process system’ using feedlots to finish his clients cattle through the supply chain.
“For my clients to manage what available grass they still had, we encouraged them to pregnancy test and all empty cows were placed into the feedlot in store condition.
“This allowed what grass there was available for the PTIC cows, and cows with calves.
“All steers and heifers 300kg plus were also trucked to the feedlot.”
Simstock Rural Agencies put in place the logistics of coordinating the movement of their client’s cattle into the feedlots.
“Ross Ballard of Ballard’s Livestock Transport, Longreach, was put in charge of carting the cattle, and our feedlot coordinators were Amanda Moohen, of Wonga Plains Feedlot, Bowenville, and Warren Salter, of Sandalwood Feedlot, Dalby,” he said.
“Kurt Wockner of Oakey Beef Exports and Nathan Burey, the Longreach based buyer for Teys Australia, also played a very important role in this process.”
Dry cows went for 50 to 65 days, trade heifers for 60 days and steers for 70 days.
Mr Simpson said any cattle lines with an average entry weight of above 350kg, were fed for 100 days.
“In our program Simstock paid all feedlot costs, to free up our client’s cash flow, and these costs were then deducted when the cattle were sold to the processor,” he said.
“This worked very well for our clients as they had no financial burden and we were able to provide the service due to low interest rates.”
During the long relentless seven-year-drought, the Longreach district received some rain in the winter of 2016.
“When this rain fell, we took the opportunity to buy in weaners for clients to grow out to feeders which were then placed into the feedlot supply chain,” he said
“It was a great learning curve for clients to see how their cattle could perform in a feedlot environment as it affected their bottom line.
We have always been a resilient district but we have become much smarter.
“We have always been a resilient district but we have become much smarter.
“This marketing strategy has been very effective and we have up to 10,000 cattle on feed at any one time.”
Mr Simpson said the Longreach district and surrounds was still desperate for rain and that everyone is looking to the heavens to open.