Strategic livestock marketing practices are reaping financial rewards for Jock and Rebecca Heard as they work hand in hand with their AWN specialist to maximise profits.
Jock and wife Rebecca, along with employees Rick, Sam and Darren, operate a mixed farming enterprise on ‘Wondalea’, a 12,000-acre property south of Horsham at Wonwondah and another at Jeparit to the north of Horsham.
“A lot of people rely on the physical market and there is certainly a place for it, but rather than the acceptance of the physical market and the lottery it can present, it’s good to be aware it’s not the only way to market and that’s where the specialists at AWN can help.”
The enterprise is evenly divided between cropping and sheep production and the Heards work with AWN’s Wimmera manager Wayne Driscoll to take full advantage of the livestock marketing opportunities on offer.
“We have a very strong relationship with Wayne, he knows our size and scale and how we operate,’’ Jock said. “He puts the marketing opportunities in front of us and we go from there.’’
“Our primary sheep focus is our one-and-a-half-year-old crossbred ewes which we sell at the Edenhope Blue Ribbon Sale in November. Prime lamb breeders looking to source ewes who make good mothers and grow out well are attracted to this sale as it has a great reputation. We were fortunate to be able to offer 1200 ewes at the sale this year.’’
The Edenhope selling centre is a new, purpose-built yard which was constructed last year by AWN. It is home to the AWN Edenhope Annual Breeders First Cross Ewe and Ewe Lamb Sale.
Wayne explained there are three to four of these blue-ribbon events each year and AWN proudly owns one of them.
“Last year saw 10,000 head go through for a return of $3.5m and this year the numbers increased to 12,000,’’ he said.
The Heards cross 50 per cent of their Merino ewes with Border Leicesters while the remaining 50 per cent comprise a self-replacing modern Merino flock, Jock said. He and Rebecca take advantage of forward contracts to market the first-cross wether lambs, with the cull ewes sold direct off-farm to Ararat abattoir on a weight basis.
“Forward contracts have been very strong, especially for late summer turnoff which can be an uncertain time. We put these lambs onto stubbles, and we can hold the lambs with confidence knowing we have these contracts,’’ he said.
Wayne says negotiable forward contracts enable the lambs to be shorn and put on bean stubble where their weight is monitored.
“Jock and Rebecca then have confidence in the price they are going to get when they send 1500-1800 lambs to the abattoir for export in February to April,’’ he said.
The two-tooth Merino wethers go to the stubble country on the Heards’ farm north of Horsham and are then sent direct off-farm to the Cranbourne abattoir.
Wayne said the Heards are the perfect example of operators using a range of marketing strategies and not solely relying on the physical market.
“Everything is structured and streamlined, and they know what they are getting,’’ he said.
“This also enables planning to take place as they know where they’re going – it gives a definite direction. They can feed to specific weights knowing the dollars per head and can take advantage of the ease of marketing these strategies offer.”
“A lot of people rely on the physical market and there is certainly a place for it, but rather than the acceptance of the physical market and the lottery it can present, it’s good to be aware it’s not the only way to market and that’s where the specialists at AWN can help.
“We are always looking at the best ways to maximise the returns Jock and Rebecca receive for their products through these various marketing strategies.’’