Booming results at the Broadwood cattle sale turned heads and delighted vendors last week.
The top pen of 29 Angus cows vetted in calf fetched $1880 per cow for vendor Daryl Masters, of Broadwood.
The second cut of 50 cows was not far behind, selling for $1830.
Carrfields stock agent and auctioneer Tim Williamson said he had never sold commercial Angus and Angus-Hereford cross cows to that high price level before.
"The vendor was rapt. He had high expectations before the sale but the result was a lot more than anyone was expecting,'' Williamson said.
Masters sold 210 of his surplus cows at the Broadwood sale and all fetched good prices.
Williamson said they were good lines of nice-looking cattle and well presented.
"Some of them went as far away as Hawke's Bay.
"Other vendors also had a good day. Cattle prices are looking a lot more rosy,'' Williamson said.
Sale prices are influenced by the meat schedule, which has been driven up by prices in the US as well as a shortage of prime cattle.
"The drought has had an effect as a lot of the older cattle were sent to the works earlier than usual so they are not around now.
"There is a shortage at the meatworks so processors are looking for more cattle. The schedule is going up because of demand and so this is reflected at the sales.
"The next sales will be interesting as farmers try to find cattle to capitalise on the good prices."
Another line of 15 nice young Angus cows made $1470, which was much more than the expected price of $1300, he said.
"With the shortages at the meatworks, the prices have rocketed up,'' he said.
Williamson is one of the senior auctioneers selling at Kauri, Broadwood and Peria.
He's been a stock agent for about 17 years, and says he was lucky to have been taught by excellent mentors who all encouraged him to be an auctioneer.
"I started with selling bobby calves and one of the best compliments I got was from a very good auctioneer, the late Ross Foy of Kaitaia, who told me I had a very clear voice and to keep at it."
Williamson started out his career with Williams and Kettle after leaving the banking industry, and spent some time working in the Hawke's Bay and Te Puke, before moving back north to Whangārei.
He has been working for Carrfields, formerly known as Elders, since November 2007 and loves the teamwork that goes into their work as stock agents.
"I sell every week at Kauri sale and then fill in and help out wherever I am needed all over Northland.''
Williamson said when farmers are under pressure, such as during floods or droughts, stock agents are the "friendly faces that will always come up the driveway. We are often the people that the farmers can unload to and get things off their chest. There is real trust built up over the years."
He enjoyed meeting "amazing people and getting results for them".
"You have to take the good with the bad but most clients have become family friends. You can't beat the people in the farming industry.''
He also felt privileged to travel throughout the more remote parts of Northland's spectacular countryside.
"I've been to nooks and crannies of Northland that most people never get to see.''
Technology had meant that videos and photos of the cattle were taken in the paddock or at saleyards for buyers to view.
"A lot of deals happen that way. Any smartphone can take good crisp photos which really helps the buyers make their decisions, wherever they are in New Zealand.
"There are lots of different online platforms now but I still find that most farmers like to sit around the kitchen table and work out what to do.''
Stock agents help farmers to draft cattle into lines of similar looking animals ready for sale.
"That's another part of the job that I love.
"You can start off with a real mix and then you start to draft out the lines into sizes and colours to end up with a really smart looking line. It's not so much about a fixed number but more about having a line of similar quality cattle.
"However, there are some people who are really superstitious and will never buy a line of 13 cattle, so we try to avoid that,'' he said.