INSIGHT: Bill Steffensen at the Murgon Cattle Sale on March 7.
INSIGHT: Bill Steffensen at the Murgon Cattle Sale on March 7. Tobi Loftus

What goes into a cattle sale

TO THE uninitiated, a cattle sale may look like a confusing maze but agent Bill Steffensen said it was a process people learned to control over time.

"How it all starts is the vendors ring in with the cattle they want to sell,” he said.

"The agents then organise a carrier to bring the cattle in, in Kingaroy we need to know whether the cattle has had ticks or if the neighbours had ticks.

"We put a list together and send it off to the DPI, they tell us what cattle we have to inspect.

"The owners then bring cattle into the saleyards, unload them, if we need to inspect them we do, then they get drafted into their sexes and weight categories and put into their pens.”

At Tuesday's sale in Murgon, Mr Steffensen said cattle were logged into a computer and put to auction the next day.

"After they are sold they are taken out of the pens, they go up and get drafted again, go across the scales and into the buyers' pens,” he said.

"That is really where our job as agents finishes.”

Mr Steffensen said working in the saleyards was quite labour intensive.

"You need about three or four people for 150 head,” he said.

"Three drafting them up and one to do the paperwork.

"It's labour intensive but very hectic. You only have to look how many people are working to put the cattle on the scales.

"There are seven people working putting cattle on the scales, plus more in the office and the auctioneers.”

Mr Steffensen said he had to work collaboratively with Pratt Agencies in Murgon and Aussie Land and Livestock in Kingaroy to make sure the sale ran smoothly.

"What happens is we do a pen draw, what normally happens especially here in Murgon is there are 100 selling pens, if there is 1000 head that means 10 to a pen,” he said.

"If you have 100 you get 10 pens, that is done at 1pm the day before.

"That is then divided up into trade and export cattle and then you have your steers and heifers.

"We do the same in Kingaroy.”

Mr Steffensen has been an agent since 1980 and said the way sales were run had not changed much in that time.

"The NILS tags are quite new, back when I first started you'd pen all the cattle and come along and write everything on sheets, now the cattle are all scanned and downloaded into the computer,” he said.

"It's made our job a lot harder and expensive but as long as the NILS system is working correctly it gives us an advantage on the world stage being able to identify and track the cattle.”

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