Transparency and the perfect 'shop window'

6th September 2012

The market pays what they're worth.

Livestock auction markets offer transparency, openness and are the perfect 'shop window' according to one leading UK sheep producer.

Sheep producers are favouring livestock markets over selling deadweight for a variety of reasons - not least due to the satisfaction they get from selling stock in a flexible, open and transparent market place.

Take Worcestershire-based producer Geoff Probert, for example: "Taking lambs to market is the end of the production process for me and it's when I get rewarded for all the hard work that's gone into rearing them. I like to see the job through to the very end," he says.

Geoff runs a 1,300-ewe flock at Northingtown Farm, near Holt Heath, and sells between 1,800 and 2,000 lambs, as well as breeding stock and rams, each year. "And I like to do it locally at Worcester market - and out in the open. I know that I'm getting a fair price for my lambs at that moment in time. The market pays what they're worth," he says, adding that he sells lambs from April through to August.

Prices do vary. Geoff says that prices were a little disappointing in April and May, but reached a good level in June. "And they've been exceptional in July and that's expected to continue throughout August. So it all balances out.

"I knew prices would be down a little in late spring because there was a back log of big lambs on the market at that time. It's all about supply and demand and when you can see that with your own eyes you don't mind the 'lows'. Transparency is one of the key reasons why I sell at auction," he adds.

His lambs are averaging £91/head at the moment, for Texel Charollais cross lambs between 38kgLW and 42kgLW.

Because Geoff also sells breeding stock, there's the added benefit that the market is also his 'shop window'. "Buyers get to know me and to see my stock - lambs, rams and breeding ewes. Selling deadweight or direct just wouldn't allow my flock and the high quality of my stock to be on show like that."

He says that using the market isn't difficult either - it's just a short distance down the road from his unit. "And I know that the market staff and auctioneers will always do their best to help ensure that lambs reach their potential on the day. Some producers even go as far as to leave their lambs there to be sold, such is the level of trust.

"But I like to stay and see how they - and other lambs - sell. To me it's one of the most satisfying aspects of the job and it's a welcome break from the day-to-day routine."

For further information please contact:

Chris Dodds, Executive Secretary, Livestock Auctioneers Association
01697 475 433 / 07885 731 502
[email protected]

Gwyn Williams, Chairman, Livestock Auctioneers Association
01625 861122
[email protected]