The Livestock Auctioneers' Association Limited (LAA)

Trade Talk - Tom Brooksbank, Norton & Brooksbank

29th June 2021

The changing face of farm livestock sales


In the past three weeks we at Norton & Brooksbank have conducted three dispersal sales of dairy cattle in Wiltshire, Yorkshire and Cheshire with over 1,100 head sold on farms. The trade has been very good everywhere and despite the late spring and lack of rain in some parts, young stock and late summer/autumn calving cattle have sold above expectations.

The time-honoured guide to trade of ‘supply and demand’ suggests supply is currently not matching demand in the dairy sector. We sell around 1,000 head per month privately including significant quantities of heifers imported from Germany and Luxemburg and still have plenty of customers wanting more. The value of cull cows has made replacing them far easier when perhaps less than two culls can finance a medium quality fresh heifer.

The old enemy of TB continues to strangle the industry with tens of thousands slaughtered every year and clients keen to sell stock or disperse their herds thwarted by a breakdown. 

The difference between top quality and the next level down is more marked than in recent times with plenty of fresh calved heifers making 2,000 guineas+ and others of less appeal being sold for 13-1500 guineas. Our most recent sale on the Wirral in Cheshire saw really strong demand throughout with the 422 head sold averaging almost £1,500 each from 10-year-old cows to new dropped heifer calves. 53 topped 2,000 guineas with served heifers up to 2,150gs and heifer calves at foot to 1,000gs

Since we first introduced Marteye at the Knowlesmere sale in September last year the buying patterns on farm as well as in marts has altered dramatically with up to 60% sold on-line and as much as 90% bid at on-line. No doubt the Covid19 pandemic fuelled this but it certainly looks like a trend set to increase.

Trade Talk, Tom Brooksbank
Trade Talk, Tom Brooksbank