Let’s get digital

DIGITAL innovation of livestock management at the TLX Powranna saleyards is proving a drawcard for interstate buyers.

Much has been done in the past two years to future proof the saleyards. The site took on the mantle of the sole major saleyard in the state after the closure of the Quoiba yards in mid-2020. There has been plenty of growth at Powranna since then, despite the quite significant speedbump that was a global pandemic. The integration of digital book-keeping, weighing, logistics and sales of livestock have seen considerable success.

“The pandemic fast-tracked a lot of things for us. A goal of ours always was to digitise our handling and selling of livestock,” Nutrien Ag General Manager John Tuskin said. “We can now interface online through Auctions-Plus sales, again driven heavily by the pandemic, where mainland buyers couldn’t get down here.” The incorporation of a new digital booking keeping system, called Agrinous, has also drastically streamlined the process of livestock management at the site.

Through scanning ear tags on the livestock, the program can detect whether individual animals have updated NVDs, sale history and whether the animal is part of any specific breeding or feeding programs. “A lot of the changes are industry driven, whether it’s due to the need for better traceability or animal welfare, buyers need real-time knowledge,” Mr Tuskin said. “Before an animal even gets to the yard, we know which individual ones are coming to us, we can track them right to the point where we actually know which pen they’re in at any given time.”

The recent upgrading of a second weighbridge at the site, equipped with automatic scanners, represents yet another step in the digitised direction, something that is capturing the attention of mainland buyers.

Recent statistics show that 48 per cent of weaner cattle sold at Powranna were purchased by buyers from interstate, a market that was much harder to attract before the upsizing and upskilling of the site. “To attract those guys to Tasmania, we need to be able to provide volume. They’ll only come if they can consolidate their costs and buy truck loads,” Nutrien livestock manager George Nichols said.

TLX Manager Andrew Palmer said Powranna could process around 2500 cattle in a single sale, with capacity to hold around 1000 with food, water and shelter, as well as pasture if need be. The extension of the sheep yards, including shelter, feeding and drinking apparatus will also expand the sale operations.