Cat­tle fences are fly­ing up

Con­trac­tors work­ing harder to meet de­mand

Central and North Burnett Times - - LIFE | FENCE POST - Jack Lawrie

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.

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