Yarding up - The rise of Delta Livestock
Article I Rosie O’Keeffe Photography I Dean Kinlyside
Whilst sheep and cattle sales might be a numbers game, and in the timing, for the Delta Livestock team, it’s just as important to develop partnerships with producers and maintain an understanding of each farming operation.
Delta Livestock Manager David Corcoran has been working with some of his producers for up to three decades.
David Corcoran & Bill Frew
“Understanding their business, expectations and timing of what they are doing in their programs is really important in making the key decisions to maximise returns,” David says.
“It’s really important to protect the interest of our clients, not just short-term cost cutting or risky deals, it’s about integrity, secure funds and guaranteeing what we do is in the best interests of the clients.”
David says achieving a maximum return for the producer is all in the presentation and timing.
“It can be intense dealing with people’s livelihood and the pressure is on to get a top price to improve margins for producers and how the stock are presented,” Wagga livestock sales agent Scott Hall says.
He is in the thick of a high stakes environment at Wagga Livestock Marketing Centre each week as thousands of head of sheep and cattle are sold to the highest bidder. Scott says the day’s action all begins under large floodlights in the early hours of the morning – often starting between 2am and 5am – as teams gather to pen either the cattle or sheep for the weekly sale.
“I definitely enjoy the saleyards and the challenge of dealing with the stock, managing the changing markets, the producers selling, and the buyers,” he says.
Scott Hall, Sam Fardell, Greg Holt, Andrew Adams & Col Harris.
Scott grew up on a property at Goondiwindi in southern Queensland and always knew that he would be involved in agriculture in a livestock role. He joined the Delta group as a trainee six years ago and has relished his role working alongside a highly experienced team originally with Aaron Mackay, the Branch Manager and now with Jon Bergmeier. “I have really enjoyed the role with Delta, the experience gained working with a few of our senior Delta agents, giving me a real insight into building client relationships. It is good to be able to still have access to experienced agents such as Jon, David Corcoran and Bill Frew,” Scott, who is travelling between properties at the time of our interview, says. Jon and Scott, along with Sam Fardell and Colleen Price make up the Wagga team. Colleen services all the processing and admin needs in the location, and has done for around 20 years, a huge contribution to the group.
Delta Ag’s livestock offering was established in 2006 when David Corcoran joined the company with a ‘clean sheet’ opportunity to build a Livestock & Propery business within Delta Ag. In 2009 Delta merged with the largest private agency in Wagga – Hamilton Luff Burton (HLB) which was a key growth period and was the start of an integral presence in the Wagga area. Today, along with David Corcoran and the Wagga group the Delta Livestock team includes Cameron Rosser and Jack Mann with Sharon Kelly as Group Administration Manager based out of Young, Andrew Adams, Col Harris and Greg Holt based at Cootamundra, and Bill Frew, Tegan Morris and Alex Willson at the Yass Branch.
David says the entire team work as a close group to help keep everyone up to date with opportunities for clients.
“Weekly markets set the tone to a large degree for what is happening in the meat trade when it comes to prices and rates. There are, however ever increasing and added ways to establish a good price for our clients, including direct to the processor, and importantly a huge online marketing platform. Our whole team with a good blend of experience and youthful drive are relishing these new avenues to add real value to our clients’ operations.” David says.
“Good agency really is about being flexible and having the knowledge of industry conditions, supply and demand.”
Scott says the Wagga markets have particularly changed in recent years in supply and prices.
“There are a lot of prime lambs on the market, but there has been a significant drop in cattle yarded down from 6,000 head yarded two years ago, to regularly 2,000 penned, but the prices are certainly up.”
Tegan Morris Delta Livestock & Property Yass
Cam Rosser Delta Livestock & Property Young
Jon Bergmeier Delta Livestock & Property Wagga
David agrees that the cattle market is always volatile with export markets in the mix and smaller herds with the recent drought, with a big shift to prime lamb production evident.
“The red meat industry – beef, lamb and mutton – is our core business.
“Producers are involved in breeding stock to keep the red meat supply chain strong and there are big opportunities going forward domestically and globally for Australian produce,” David says.
“Our livestock and grazing conditions are considered clean and green, and our animal welfare issues have improved over the years – so there is a big future for red meat.
“We are becoming better at producing high quality pastures and fodder crops too, there is a focus on genetics in prime lambs and cattle and producers are starting to reap the benefits. There has certainly been a big expansion in lamb production and a shift away from wool in the past 10 to 15 years with the return not as strong, so it’s an important part of our agricultural landscape.”
Scott also says that he has seen growth in farmers who have traditionally grown crops diversifying into livestock and benefitting from it, especially working in conjunction with experienced agronomists to ensure optimum grazing pastures/crops.
One of the biggest evolvements for the livestock industry, especially in store stock sales has been the introduction of technology with mobile phones and an online market through platforms like AuctionsPlus and FarmGate Auctions.
“It’s efficient and you don’t even have to leave the farm. You’re in control of the price, can manage expectations and reserves. It really broadens the market and can assess, promote and sell stock in seconds, so it’s certainly been a game changer.”