Trade Talk - Robert Meadmore

12th May 2016

At the time of writing, like everyone else, Mid Wales eagerly awaits the appearance of some spring warmth, with a lot of the stock we process depending on a plentiful supply of grass. 

Traditionally spring is a quieter time for our three centres, Hay-on-Wye, Builth Wells and Rhayader, with weekly entries of hoggetts between 500 and 1000 and cull stock about 200 to 600. At Builth Wells the first sale of ewe and lamb couples took place on April 29. 

As elsewhere in the country, hogget trade has been frustrating.  We deal with all types of hoggs from 25kg to 55kg and every breed created.  In most instances it has been the lighter sheep (25kg to 35kg) that have been easier to process, along with all cull sheep.  A sign that this part of the meat business is still in independent hands which provokes plenty of competition. 

Our most recent cattle sale was held at Rhayader market, with an entry of over 250 quality continental cattle.  Trade was as expected, with a good distribution of stock to all parts of the country.  Prices were probably on average down £100 per head.  In our area there is a hardcore of producers who have kept good herds of suckler cows together and we are very grateful for their business.  Unfortunately a lot of the smaller herds have disappeared and will not return. 

Despite all efforts TB is still a very real problem and one of the biggest frustrations of the cattle industry for both vendors and purchasers alike.

There has been a degree of diversification (in our area) over the last fifteen years mainly into poultry. 

Auction markets have to be able to move with the times and the advent of social media means reaching a younger audience than before.  Distribution of information on past and forthcoming sales is now easier to achieve. 

 All centres will have to prove to the up and coming generation, whose time will be ever more precious, that markets offer a system that has not only stood the test of time, but also deals with all classes of livestock and always endeavours to achieve the best possible price, as well as providing many other services.