How a company based in Sydney and a Glen Innes firm are changing an industry

Anna Speer, AuctionsPlus.
Anna Speer, AuctionsPlus.

A revolution is happening in the way cattle are sold – and a Glen Innes company is at the heart of it.

AuctionsPlus is based in a high-rise looking out over Sydney Harbour.  Despite the urban setting, it now deals in hundreds of millions of dollars of livestock.

It can only do that with the agents out in the field.  And Colin Say and & Co of Glen Innes are thought to be the best.

Anna Speer, the chief executive of the huge online auction site, had nothing but praise for the Glen Innes company.

Speaking from her office overlooking the Harbour, she said Colin Say & Co showed how it could be done. The New England company was, she said, innovative and always looking for ways to improve.

Colin Say & Co do more business through the site than any other Australian company.  In the last year, they have been involved in the sale of 9,000 head of cattle.

For generations, livestock has been sold at sale-yards – buyers came to inspect the cattle which sellers had brought to a physical market.  

But that’s now changing.  AuctionsPlus says that it sold 2.75 million sheep and about 430,000 cattle online in the last financial year – livestock worth $700 million.

Online trade cuts the movement of animals. Buyers in one part of Australia contact sellers in another part only in cyberspace, and the sold animals are then transferred straight from seller to buyer.

But crucial to that is the assessment of the cattle so buyers know what they’re getting.  And that’s where the assessors like Colin Say & Co underpin the revolution.

They take photographs, videos, weigh each beast, document the pedigree and health history.  Anna Speer said that farmers did not automatically trust people so giving buyers complete faith in the descriptions of animals for sale was crucial to making the new way work.

One of the directors of Colin Say & Co, Shad Bailey, said that trust was essential.

Another director of the Glen Innes company, Nathan Purvis, said you make the animal look as good as possible in video and stills but not going beyond accuracy: “It's about promotion but being honest as well.”

AuctionsPlus is run out of an office at the top of a building overlooking Sydney Harbour.  It is the hub of livestock sales online throughout Australia.

Selling music, furniture, movies, virtually anything, online has become commonplace.

And now cattle. Truly, a revolution.