Australia's first online camel sale underway

Boulia vendor opts to sell camels online in an Australian first

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Some of the camels yarded at Aldinga, north of Boulia this week.

Some of the camels yarded at Aldinga, north of Boulia this week.

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For the first time in its history, online livestock selling platform AuctionsPlus has camels for sale.

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For the first time in its history, online livestock selling platform AuctionsPlus has camels for sale.

It's unusual enough that the catalogue of 93 head plus progeny had collected 2800 views and queries from around Australia by Friday afternoon, a similar amount to regular sheep and cattle sales.

Broken up into seven lots, comprising adult bull and cow camels, heifer and bull weaners, plus cows and calves, they were mustered up by the Blacketts at Alderley Station north of Boulia.

Experienced livestock assessor, Elders Winton manager Scott Taylor is who the Blacketts approached regarding selling them via AuctionsPlus and he said he'd been happy to try something new.

"It had never been done before, although I'd spoken to AuctionsPlus earlier about holding a sale on behalf of another Boulia client, which didn't eventuate," he said.

"AuctionsPlus were very keen so I went out to Boulia on Tuesday.

"They'd mustered them up with choppers the day before and we drafted them into lines, pretty much the way you do with sheep and cattle."

Although they couldn't weigh any of the grown camels, they were able to gauge the weight of the weaners, from 197kg to a high of 367kg.

The cattle yards that the camels are being kept in prior to sale are 1.85m high.

The cattle yards that the camels are being kept in prior to sale are 1.85m high.

Mr Taylor said since they'd been listed he'd had calls from people around Jericho, which he thought would be people interested in woody weed control, and from as far away as Melbourne.

"I think he was keen to supply meat to the market down there, but I suggested he look at the distance and freight costs," Mr Taylor said.

The lack of other selling options was what prompted the Blacketts to consider the AuctionsPlus route, according to Mr Taylor, who said they'd sent some to Peterborough in South Australia prior to this.

"We don't expect it to be a huge money maker at this stage - it's about market interest."

AuctionsPlus regional sales coordinator Hamish Cook said they were very excited about the opportunity to trial a new market.

Being a new commodity, he and Mr Taylor liaised with the integrity team in order to be able to assure buyers that they would get what they were paying for.

"We wanted a good result so we had to do it right," he said. "We lack the experience in the camel market. Over time, if a market like this expands, we could develop specific assurances."

The system chosen for this initial trial, a described sale rather than an assessed sale, is what they arrived at, meaning that buyer protection didn't apply and animals were being sold on an as is, where is basis.

They were mustered from spinifex rangelands west of Boulia and walked 60km to a holding paddock before yarding the next day.

In Mr Taylor's catalogue summary he says they "seem to have respect for fences and go through gateways OK".

"Generally temperament is good in paddock and will settle down further while being fed hay in yards until delivery," he added.

"Vendor has been running camels for 25 years with these being surplus to requirements.

"Alderley Station has supplied many successful racing camels over the years."

Mr Cook said every lot had had a bid within hours of going live on the website this week, and that they'd left the reserve price up to Mr Taylor and the vendor to decide.

From the feedback they were receiving, they were reasonably priced, he said.

"There are different markets being considered - camel milk, processing - and there's a lot of online banter," Mr Cook said.

He added that he'd been speaking to experienced camel salesman and adventurer Paddy McHugh, who has long bemoaned the lack of a commercial market for Australia's feral camel population.

"We're excited by the possibility before us and fingers crossed it becomes regular and we can do a bit more."

He likened it to the way the online goat market had emerged in recent years, driven by colleagues who had wanted to give something different a try.

Mr Taylor said there'd likely be a ready supply of camels if the sale proved a success, with both the Blacketts and neighbours having plenty more available.

The sale closes at 12 noon AEDT on Monday, to give prospective buyers a chance to think about their options prior to bidding.

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