'Diggers' passion for livestock

14 Jul, 2014 06:12 PM

IN its 100-year history, Stock & Land has had just five prime market analysts.

Adrian Kennedy – also known as "Digger" – covered the round for 36 of those years, detailing market trends, prices and key industry news.

Originally from Shepparton, he left the family farm in 1957 to become an apprentice to Stock & Land's original fat/prime reporter Clive O'Connor at Newmarket.

It was a time when southern Australia's livestock action centred on Newmarket, with weekly yardings of 10,000 cattle and 100,000 sheep and lambs not uncommon and the market setting the barometer for prices for the entire eastern seaboard.

After Mr O'Connor retired in 1972, Mr Kennedy continued as the paper's prime reporter for another 20 years.

He covered the Newmarket sales until the saleyards were closed down by the Victorian Government in 1987 to make way for housing.

After that he reported from Dandenong and retired in 1992, passing the mantle to Murray Arnel.

"Adrian was known for his love of Newmarket, Stock & Land and all that made up livestock auctions," noted in an article marking his retirement (see right).

"He loved old times, a good yarn and a good feed of red meat.

"He loathed new fangled gadgets like computers and typewriter technology.

"Deciphering his freehand written reports was a job many an aspiring cadet had to undertake."

In an obituary following Mr Kennedy's death in 2009 aged 83, former Stock & Land editor and store stock analyst Don Story described him as a "straight from the shoulder commentator" on key issues affecting the meat industry, especially anything that threatened demand – including the industrial action of the meat workers union during the 1970s.

He remembered him as fiercely supportive of the auction system and the key role of the Newmarket saleyards – then the largest saleyard in the Southern Hemisphere

"Adrian had his own style and was very skilled at using the then very subjective livestock descriptions," Mr Story wrote.

"Older readers will recall these descriptions including 'chunky' and 'junky' for bullocks. These descriptions were used pre-liveweight selling and built up a detailed word picture of the livestock.

"Perhaps we've lost something in the interim because these days its weight and breeding only."

In his obituary, Mr Story recalled the markets analyst as a private person who only appeared at the Stock & Land office to drop off his hand-written copy and maybe chat for a moment with the then managing editor Chris Griffith before disappearing.

"I recall asking Adrian why Herefords were the then dominant breed," Mr Story wrote.

"His response was simple and matter of fact: 'Because they're the best,' he replied."

In the article, legendary agent Brian Rodwell remembered Mr Kennedy as a "very decent fellow".

"He was quiet mannered and went about the job professionally."

Mick Hornsby of Mick Hornsby Livestock also worked with Mr Kennedy.

"He was terrific and very good at his job," he said at the time.

"Everyone respected him and he mixed with everyone very easily."

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Sorry did i get it wrong..? Rankins Springs is still open..?!
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No doubt a few frosted Freddies out there who will wish they had taken a closer look at the AGC
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Matthew, I was wondering if you had followed up this story with the farmer after the whole