Winless man breaks duck at Owaka sale


South Otago farmer Russell O’Hara had some beginner’s luck on St Patrick’s Day.

Mr O’Hara entered cattle at the Owaka Calf Sale at Balclutha Saleyards for the first time last week and took home the R.B. Murray Trophy for selling the heaviest pen of steers.

‘‘I’ve never won anything in my life,’’ the retired bushman said as he was handed the trophy.

His pen of five Simmental cross steers weighed 399kg.

Mr O’Hara (73), of Stirling, runs sheep and cattle on his 8ha home block and on 60ha he leases on Inch Clutha.

‘‘It’s only a hobby.’’

Beresford Farms owner Warren Burgess, of Puketiro, about 20km south of Owaka, won shields for fetching the highest individual prices for a pen of spring steers and a pen of spring heifers.

The breeds of both winning pens were purebred Simmental — the 23 steers sold for $1200 and 16 heifers for $900.

All of the 135 Beresford Farms calves in the sale fetched prices slightly higher than past years, Mr Burgess said.

‘‘We’ve had a good day considering the top 100 calves are still at home — that’s quite cool.’’

PGG Wrightson senior livestock representative Craig Dempster, of Balclutha, said the sale featured ‘‘a good bench of buyers’’ despite dry conditions in parts of the South and challenges getting space for stock at meatworks, due to the impact of Covid›19. All of the about 900 calves on offer sold. Steers sold for up to $3.72 per kg. On average, prices were up $50 a calf on last year. Due to the challenges this season, younger, lighter calves ‘‘represented good value’’ to the buyers who had winter feed reserves available. The first calf sale servicing the Balclutha area is at the same venue on April 1.