Get to know the LMO

08 August 2018

Twenty-six Livestock Market Officers (LMOs) currently work across Australia as part of MLA’s National Livestock Reporting Service. Covering more than 3,000 markets a year and thousands of kilometres between them, LMOs attend and report on up to 70 of the nation’s cattle, sheep and goat sales on a weekly basis.

This week, we talk to well-known New South Wales LMO, David Monk, about his sales patch and how the markets are tracking.

What regions do you cover and where are you based?

I’m based at Dubbo and cover sheep and lamb sales and prime cattle sales at Dubbo and CTLX Carcoar, and also the store cattle sale at Dubbo.

What trends have you been seeing at your markets recently?

The prices for lamb at the moment are quite amazing. We saw heavy weight lambs set a new centre record at Dubbo on 23 July of $286/head.

In the cattle market, the saturation of young cattle in store condition due to widespread drought is ongoing. As a result, they are getting cheaper and attracting buyers from Queensland and Victoria. If they are heavy enough, the lot feeders are still keen to get them.

It’s the first time in my career where I’ve seen finished cattle selling for a greater price per kilogram than what they were bought for as light store cattle.

What’s a hot topic around the catwalks of the saleyards you cover at the moment?

The ongoing drought is a concern for everyone. Producers are just trying to keep their stock going, spending from daylight till dark feeding stock and checking waters.

We’re seeing record lamb prices at the moment, but producers are literally lot feeding them on grain to get them to the weights to make those prices.

Dubbo draws in livestock from as far west as Broken Hill and South Australia, and we saw huge consignments of far western cattle earlier this year as producers were offloading ahead of autumn and winter.

What’s the best part about your job?

I’ve been a market reporter for 15 years and I have to say the best part of my job is being a part of the “saleyards family”. I love interacting with the buyers, agents and producers – they’re all great people.

When you’re not at the saleyards, where would we find you?

I have a small farm east of Dubbo and there’s always something to do there. If not there, then occasionally, down at the local!

I normally run about 50 head of cattle but I’ve got about 26 head at the moment and I’m seriously thinking about whether I should be offloading them.

What’s your favourite red meat meal?

Rump steak, cooked medium-rare on the barbecue, served with some redclaw.

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