Cattle fences are flying up
Contractors working harder to meet demand
AS A logical side effect of the booming cattle market, it has never been a better time to be in the fencing business.
Cattle property owners are spending money from high cattle prices to buy and renovate their land.
These cattle need to be fenced off for breeding purposes, which is where the fence contractors come in.
The yards are to draft and process cattle; calves are brought in for branding and weighing, and trucked out to market or sent to feedlots to prepare for slaughter.
Fence work climbing
JJ Rural Construction fence contractor Jason Cook is currently working out at Tecoma along Old Rawbelle Rd, doing the grids for a road to pass through the area.
Between that, he’s taken on many contracts from cattle property owners, building yards and enclosures.
“It’s been good business; we’re flat out at the moment,” Mr Cook said.
“When I'm finished here, I move on to another property, and I’m booked out for two years.”
Cattle yards are one of the more expensive projects, and he said property owners were lining up to get orders in.
“Yards are fairly expensive to build with all the steel and work that goes into them,” Mr Cook said.
“But now they’re getting a fair bit of money for the cattle, they’re spending more.”
Cattle properties that have been run down for several decades are using the money to expand and refurbish properties, as well as put in enclosures for breeding.
Ogle’s Rural Fencing owner Gordon Ogle said he was busy with cattle yard jobs for the past four months, and believed it wouldn’t let up for at least six months.
“Most of them nowadays do steel yards; there’s a lot of work to go into it,” Mr Ogle said.
Timber yards are uncommon these days, and contractors will generally go for steel.
“The only people that build them these days are people that own the wooden posts,” Mr Ogle said.
Timber yards cost roughly $30 per post, making it cheaper than steel, which is usually $45 a panel.
A steel cattle enclosure can cost up to $70,000 depending on the contract rates, and for a single-person contractor, it can take about eight weeks.
Mr Cook said one-person teams were common in fencing, since the trade tended to be learned as a hand-me-down from farming, and wasn’t taught as an apprenticeship.
“Accountant says if we pay someone 25 bucks an hour, we’ve got to hire them out for 75 bucks an hour,” he said.
“You just can’t do that; people won’t pay 75 bucks an hour for a gopher running about.”
The rainy weather, which has been partly responsible for pushing up prices in the first place, is one of the biggest hazards to getting fence work done.
“If it rains for a week and I can’t work, I get no income,” Mr Cook said.
Mr Ogle is optimistic; in addition to the added income from cattle yards, he has his own property and has been reaping the windfall from both sides of the market.
“I can afford to take my son on with me, I’m hoping to get him to take over the business one day,” Mr Ogle said.
“With the extra help, you can get through them faster because when people say PHOTOS: CONTRIBUTED they want it done, they want it done.”
Currently, contractors are booked so far in advance, the market could very well change while property owners are looking to get yards set up.
Mr Ogle said he had a principle of buying in Monto to support the local community.
“You try to buy everything locally when you can, as long as they’re competitive with prices,” Mr Ogle said.
If you put in an order today, I might not be able to get to you for two years. — Jason Cook
BUSINESS BOOMING: An aerial view of a recently built cattle yard at Tecoma.
Interest in cattle yards has gone up to meet demand.
Materials left over for continuing work.
Jason Cook has been building fences for 12 years.