In his first blog, ANM auctioneer Rory Livesey discusses why farmers should Think Thainstone, how a typical farm visit goes, what his customers are up to and his recommendations to buyers and sellers for the upcoming autumn sales season.
Why should farmers Think Thainstone?
The recent launch of our Think Thainstone campaign has been well-received by the farming community and widely reported on by agricultural media which has certainly helped raise the profile of the Mart.
The opening of the AWPR has made Thainstone more accessible than ever before and our customers are seeing savings between 45 to 60 minutes when travelling North. Farmers get paid on the day, receive free overnight lairage for their stock and there is also online bidding and video streaming of our sales available for those unable to attend in person.
Our busy autumn sales are just around the corner and as UK’s largest auction venue, we invite producers to take advantage of Thainstone’s professional auctioneering service, open market and strong ringside of buyers.
What does a farm visit look like?
One of the best parts of my job is that I get to regularly travel across Scotland and visit customers on their farm. In August alone I saw more than 80 farmers in the lead up to the autumn sales in Kincardineshire, Angus, Perthshire and Fife.
Every farm visit is different. I usually start by looking at livestock with the farmer and advise them on the current trade prices and the best time to sell. We examine the animals carefully to accurately judge their condition and determine if they’re ready to sell now or if they need to put on more weight. All the farmers I visit are very receptive and appreciate the visit.
What are farmers up to during this time of the year?
Harvest has just started and a lot of farmers on better ground are cutting spring barley and trying to finish baling. Some of the hill customers are having to go down country to do baling and are not always home. It’s a big rush at this time of year to get their grain and straw in so they have adequate winter supplies.
Sheep farmers are busy weaning and dosing lambs and getting them into their groups, while a lot of the cattle producers are starting to house their cattle. A few of them have started to house their autumn calves before they sell to get a bloom on them and increase their weight to be ready for the market.
What are farmers’ views on the months ahead?
At the moment, everyone is a bit cautious in the marketplace with Brexit just around the corner and the uncertainty that it brings. The sheep sector is perhaps the most affected with the unknown tariffs on export lamb, and processors are not taking in as much beef due to current demands. However, the farming industry is very resilient, and we have so much to be proud of. We have a strong brand worldwide and Scottish farmers are known for producing the best quality meat!
What’s your advice to farmers ahead of the busy autumn sales?
Store sheep and cattle
We have seen store lambs coming to Thainstone a bit earlier this year ahead of Brexit date; and if you’ve got a lot of store lambs it may be a good idea to cash them in now. It’s been a good year for grass growth and farmers are keeping their store cattle outside for as long as possible. We may see more numbers coming on to the market in October time.
If you’re thinking of selling, Thainstone’s autumn sales present the best opportunity to sell stock that has reached peak condition. We have two Friday shows and sales of calves to choose from starting on 27th September and again on 11th October.
Yearling autumn calves over fat cattle
The yearling autumn calves are selling well right now and are trading above-expectation. Buyer confidence is up due to lower feeding costs expected this winter with plenty of straw and feeding barley available.
Fat cattle are reaching prices up to £1,200 which is around £3.30 to £3.40 per kg deadweight and it takes a big store beast to achieve that. However, you can have a year-old bullock at 430kg achieve over £900 which makes for a good trade compared to fat cattle at the moment.
In terms of spring calves, we won’t start getting them until the end of October and into early November. Although you can’t guarantee the price, I keep saying to my customers that there will be a lot of feed supplies this winter and feeding producers will be looking for cattle. Good stock always sells well, and buyers are more selective in their purchasing.
I encourage customers looking to buy cattle to come to Thainstone, particularly if you’ve got plenty of feed for the winter ahead. This year has been very good for straw and barley crop production which is a big improvement on last year.