ONLINE livestock sales platform AuctionsPlus has a growing presence at WA commercial and stud stock sales.
In recent years, team members from the online platform have been converging on ag events and sales here in WA, telling the story of what AuctionsPlus can do and learning about the needs of WA livestock producers.
It produces plenty of market opportunities to vendors and buyers alike, creating a spike in interest in the service offered by the platform.
Farm Weekly had a chat with Michael Corcoran, AuctionsPlus regional sales and customer services officer, who regularly hits the lanes at stock sales in WA, to talk about online sales and started by asking if he thought the landscape of livestock sales in WA is changing.
“AuctionsPlus has experienced significant growth over the past five years,” Mr Corcoran said.
He attributed this to technology advances and industry willingness to adopt or engage with new technology.
“Off the back of this, interest in WA is certainly growing as producers are looking at ways to maximise profitability and the performance of their livestock.”
The AuctionsPlus footprint on national livestock sales is far from insignificant, with 395,000 head of cattle and 2.9 million head of sheep going through their ‘gate’ in the 2018 financial year.
Though there has always been interest from WA in online livestock sales, in early 2017 AuctionsPlus saw an opportunity to increase their interaction with WA producers.
“Since then we have spent many days travelling this diverse State, learning, educating and listening to customers,” Mr Corcoran said.
“Our biggest takeaway from those conversations in the past two years is that there is a genuine interest and desire to begin using the platform more and more in WA.”
The AuctionsPlus team hits the rails at saleyards across the country, putting them in a strong position to comment on interstate interest in WA stock.
“Trading stock nationally isn’t a new concept and it isn’t an option for everyone but at AuctionsPlus, we see ourselves as enablers, opening national markets and reducing geographic restrictions,” Mr Corcoran said.
“In terms of seedstock, that area of our platform has experienced enormous growth in the past two years.
“Stud producers can showcase their brand on a national stage and producers in WA are no different.
“Commercial sales provide an opportunity for WA producers to take advantage of national markets on a weekly basis, across both cattle and sheep.
“There are a range of sale options, as well as opportunities for processors, lotfeeders and backgrounders to purchase stock on-farm, in a stress-free environment.”
As far as uptake goes, Mr Corcoran said both sheep and cattle markets here were similar.
“For cattle we see consistent numbers being offered each week, whereas sheep are more seasonally based and we see bigger numbers come through the system at particular times of the year.”
Looking to market conditions, we asked if the Eastern States drought would have an impact in 2019 on the WA market.
“While it isn’t a regular occurrence, we have from time to time seen cattle move from the west to east,” Mr Corcoran said.
“In the east, large amounts of breeding stock have been sent to slaughter due to seasonal conditions that would traditionally been retained or traded.
“When the season ultimately breaks there, store and prime markets will spike and we can expect prices to increase dramatically due to demand and renewed confidence.
“In particular, we anticipate breeders and feeder cattle will experience a steep price increase.
“This presents a perfect opportunity to market surplus breeders or future breeders with the protection of a reserve to a national audience.”
Going forward, Mr Corcoran said AuctionsPlus would lay several different roles in the WA cattle industry.
“In the north, we will continue to offer an alternative way of marketing pastoral cattle; from trading breeding stock to taking boat cattle to auction when the market provides the opportunity,” he said.
“In the South West of the State, AuctionsPlus has a very strong following through Colin Thexton (Independent Rural Agents), who is one of our longest-standing A1 professional assessors with the longest-running annual sale which ran for the 27th consecutive year in 2018.
“There is the opportunity to run premium breeder and weaner sales to showcase the best of WA stock to not only all of WA, but Australia.
“Additionally, we will start to see forward contract feeder sales which will allow producers to secure a forward price during a period when traditionally the market is flooded and feedlots will have the ability to forward plan stock flows and orders, along with being able to purchase stock straight off farm.”
Mr Corcoran said one of the most common questions asked by WA producers was why the platform hadn’t taken off here in the same manner as it has in the Eastern States.
“There are enormous opportunities for AuctionsPlus to establish itself as a viable and competitive tool in WA,” Mr Corcoran said.
“Through spending more time in WA, we are increasingly understanding markets, stock and seasons but most importantly, we are building relationships and increasing communication and by doing this, we are getting to know our customers better.
“We are so excited to continue growing this market alongside our accredited assessors and innovative producers.”