24 August 2001

Values impress as live market held on Orkney

By James Garner

THE first livestock market since the foot-and-mouth crisis began six months ago was held at Orkney Auction Market on Monday.

The island, which has been miles from the nearest case of F&M throughout the outbreak, was designated as the first venue for livestock sales to resume when Ross Finnie, Scotlands minister for environment and rural development, announced sales could resume in Scotlands provisionally free area last week.

With no movement off the island in the past six months, the sale was a tremendous boost to Orkneys cattle farmers, who would normally shift stores at this time of year.

Not surprisingly, the first live bidding auction prompted a good turnout of stock with 361 cattle passing under the hammer. Most stock were from Orkney, with a few from the other northern isles.

Auctioneer Jim Linklater said: "There has been a good grass growing season in Orkney, so theres no desperation to sell cattle. But if the trade carries on like this, then perhaps a few more will look to sell."

Trade seemed to pick up where it left off six months ago with good quality steers on a blue card (one beef special payment claim left) levelling at 118p/kg, with a top bid of 136p/kg. Steers, with no BSP claims left averaged 102p/kg, making a top price of 117p/kg.

About three-quarters of cattle went to buyers from Scotlands PFA, said Mr Linklater.

He added that the biosecurity measures the sale had to put in place didnt hinder trade either. "We were just relieved to get the sale going again."

The next sale at Orkney will take place next Monday, as long as the market passes an inspection.

Aberdeen and Northern Marts has announced that it will begin live auctions of cattle and sheep on Sept 7 at Thainstone Centre, Aberdeen.

It will also continue to sell stock via video sales until restrictions are lifted. Prime cattle sales will begin once rules are relaxed and the amount of time allowed between sales reduced. This is expected by the end of September.

Current rules state there must be 72 hours between sales, restricting ANM Group to just two a week at Thainstone. &#42