Unrivalled benefits of the live auction system

6th June 2014

Having just returned from a day visiting Skipton market with 10 National Sheep Association Young Ambassadors I am heartened by their approach, understanding and appreciation of livestock markets and the service they offer.

The Ambassadors were from very different sheep farming backgrounds, but nearly all regularly used livestock markets for all, or part of, their sheep purchases and sales. Although most appreciated the benefits that the live ring offers in terms of open transparent and competitive trade it appeared that only a few appreciated the size of the national business and the multitude of "add-on" services they offer.

When taking people around a livestock market it always helps when the guests see a trade that is brisk and the vendors are going home satisfied. We certainly saw that at Skipton this week (Monday) with a better than expected number of lambs forward and a very fast trade, with the best types selling near to £3 per kilo and the sale averaging £2.66 per kilo for all categories. Although only a few old season lambs were on offer they too experienced a fast trade for the time of year to level out at £2.16 per kilo.

Both classes being noticeably dearer than the deadweight equivalent price on offer. Cull ewes also sold well with demand being strong.

Although the downturn in prime cattle prices has been felt in the store ring, more so for the forward stores than the younger one's, it would appear that prices have stabilised, with most markets reporting a similar trade to the previous sale.

The downturn in store prices has been reflected in the calf trade and it would appear that many of the larger dairy units have returned to slaughtering new born bull calves at birth due to their reduced value. This in itself raises concern for the supply chain in 12/18 months' time.

Although EBLEX are predicting a reasonable supply of beef over the next 6 or 8 months there is little doubt that supply will be tight again after this.

There are several alternative marketing systems on offer and being developed, but none, other than the auction market system offers the red meat sector of our industry all of the following within the commission charge:

  1. 197 year service track record
  2. The industry's "shop window"
  3. Assured payment (from the auctioneers and not a third party often unknown by the seller)
  4. The only marketing service on offer that is working for the farmer to increase prices - Price makers NOT price takers
  5. An unrivalled knowledge of the industry and the livestock that is available for sale
  6. No hidden offtakes post sale
  7. The price achieved in the sale ring is the price paid
  8. Open transparency (for both vendor and purchaser) throughout the sale - Know who is bidding.
  9. Accumulative buyers all gathered in one place facilitating the best price and market outlet for all categories of livestock
  10. The opportunity for buyers to assess the stock before purchase and to buy what they want and not what is out of spec for their requirements
  11. Welfare friendly facilities
  12. Specialised and professionally trained staff
  13. Fully approved operational premises
  14. Complete animal traceability
  15. Movement reporting service for both sellers and buyers
  16. Sheep tag reading service for both sellers and buyers
  17. Multiple services apart from a sale room for livestock
  18. No transport costs other than delivery into the market
  19. An industry at the forefront of the development of animal health status traceability systems
  20. No sale no fee

These benefits, along with many others, confirm to farmers that the live auction system is working for them and not against them.

Using this marketing system ensures the red meat sector retains it's edge of open, transparent and competitiveness.