Lifetime spent at cattle sales
Retired agent reflects on how the business has changed
THOUGH he officially retired as a cattle sale agent in 2003, John James was still helping out right through last year, before he hung up his hat for good.
John started out at the saleyards in 1963, at a time when the markets were much smaller and the product less varied.
He grew up on a dairy property at Cania and moved into cattle sales.
He began running the old saleyards on Golf Links Rd, organising the drafting for the late Joe Quinn.
“Joe was a great mentor for me and it was a great pleasure working with him,” John said.
When Joe Quinn sold out to Dalgety, John stuck around as manager of the Monto branch for a few years before eventually purchasing the business off them.
He used to travel all throughout Queensland organising sales.
“I put an awful lot of time out of district at other sales buying cattle in,” he said.
“I had a run I used to do every fortnight where I’d head out to Mackay on Monday, stay the night, then on to Nebo, then Bowen the day after that, Charters Towers the day after that and back home Friday.”
One of the biggest changes John oversaw during his time as an agent was introducing store cattle into the mix.
“At that time the Monto sales were all fat cattle, no store cattle, so I decided to hold a store cattle sale to see how it would go,” he said.
“It was actually a great success and I had to use two sets of steel yards to back up the old wooden yards because we booked so many.”
At the time, cattle simply weren’t sold if they weren’t fit for the meatworks, but John’s decision to move into store opened up the market.
From then on, store cattle became a bigger part of the sales, continuing into the present day under Monto Cattle and Country.
Similar to John under Joe Quinn, Brad and Donna McInally of Monto Cattle and Country started out working with John in the 1980s before eventually purchasing the business off him in 2003.
John continued to stick around at the markets, helping out where he could.
“When I retired and sold out to Brad and Donna, I said if you need me around the yards, I'll come over two days every fortnight because I like to get out and do something,” he said.
This lasted up until December 6, when at the age of 79, John decided he didn’t have it in him to keep up the duties, so he decided to retire for good.
A GOOD RUN: John James got his start in 1963 and was a fixture of the saleyards right up until his retirement last year.
John with Donna McInally, who worked with John since 1987 before eventually buying the business off him.
John still looks after cattle for his son.
The cattle sale of December 6 was John's last.