Northland's $2.85 million commercial bull breeding industry is showing mixed results this season.
The North's top-priced bull sold at auction for $16,000 but sale prices have been highly variable.
One-thousand commercial breeding bulls will be sold in Northland this season — a key part of the region's agricultural industry.
The bulls have been sold locally and further afield to places including Gisborne, Ohakune, Taihape, Taranaki, Taumaranui and Whanganui.
Sales at auction to date have ranged from the $16,000 to $3500 with averages between $3850 and $7246 with little change to those figures expected by the end of the season.
"It's been a very mixed bag," Bernie McGaghan, Wellsford-based PGG Wrightson regional livestock manager for Northland said.
Some sales had gone very well while others had not been as successful, he said.
Average values have been slightly ahead of last year but the number of bulls sold is down on 2018.
A mix of reasons for this included breeding bulls living longer and therefore staying on properties longer, a decline in breeding cow numbers and changing farming policies.
Top bull fetches $16,000
Waitangi's John and Joss Bayly sold the season's top-priced $16,000 locally auctioned bull from their Angus stud in early June and are happy with how their on-farm auction went.
This year's top price was up from $12,000 in 2018. They this year sold 61 bulls. Sale prices averaged $7470, up from $6800 for their 59 bulls sold last year.
The $16,000 top-priced 2019 bull is now at Purua sheep and beef farmer Greg Lovell's 1820-hectare property west of Whangarei.
He bought the bull to use with his 280-strong beef cow breeding herd. The Lovells run their beef operation alongside their sheep farming enterprise based on 3400 breeding ewes and 800 hoggets.
Northland's five-month commercial beef bull selling season starts in May. Rising 2-year-old bulls for commercial beef farming operations are predominantly sold at auction from May until August. Rising 1 and 2-year-old beef bulls for commercial dairy farming operations (and beef to a lesser extent) are also mainly sold at auction, in August and September. Private farmer to farmer selling is also undertaken in the August/September timeslot.
The year's commercial bull auction season is two-thirds complete. Eleven auctions have taken place to date with 19 on the calendar in total.
The first of the season's 2019 Northland bull auctions was in a Charolais sale Kaikohe on May 20, the last of the season an Angus sale in Dargaville on September 26.
About 270 rising 2-year-old beef bulls are expected to have been sold at auction to beef farmers by the time the 2019 beef bull selling auction season for this market sector ends.
A further 750 rising 2-year and 1-year old beef bulls will be sold in August and September — by auction and farmer to farmer direct sales.
Breeds sold comprise Angus, Charolais, Hereford, Limousin, Murray Grey, Santa Gertrudis, Shorthorn, Simmental, and Speckle Park.