Borderway launches UK’s first online-only dairy sale

A livestock marketing company will hold the UK’s first exclusively online sale of cattle in an attempt to keep rural business going amid the coronavirus crisis.

The 2020 Border and Lakeland annual spring bull sale will be hosted on a virtual platform after the government called on sales of breeding stock through live rings to cease as part of covid-19 sanctions.

See also: Coronavirus: Online livestock auctions – how they work 

The Harrison and Hetherington (H and H) sale will take place over four days. Live bidding will start at 9am on Friday 10 April, and bidding will be accepted on Tuesday 14 April at 5pm. You can read sales details on its website

Online sales boom

Livestock marketing website Sell My Livestock last week told Farmers Weekly that sale on the site had skyrocketed.

Breeding sheep entries had almost doubled last year’s levels and breeding cows and heifers were up almost 125% and 400%, respectively.

Glyn Lucas, Harrison and Hetherington senior dairy auctioneer, told Farmers Weekly the company is also hoping to run its pedigree beef breeding sales online. You can read an information PDF on online. 

How the sale will work

All entries will have pictures and videos placed on the H and H website with pedigree information and details for buyers to peruse.

Mr Lucas said: “We find ourselves in exceptionally challenging times, but it remains an important time of the year for farmers and it is imperative that the flow of breeding animals – that are critical to our milk supplies – is able to continue in order to reach the necessary businesses and individuals. 

“Online selling is a fact of life in the economy, with auction sites proving to be effective and popular. In the context of livestock trading, it may well prove to be an additional way of business in the future.

Breeder perspective

Kevin Wilson of KJ & KS Wilson, Warnelview Farm in Thursby, near Carlisle, is selling 10 bulls and  taking part in the virtual sale.

“It is a shame we cannot take the bulls to the usual auction sale, but, under the circumstances, we are fully aware that this is absolutely not possible,” he said.

“We have taken the next step and it is online instead. For me, it is new territory, but a necessary and safe move. Without the benefit of the physical presence of a live auction room, I know that they are being presented in the best light possible to potential buyers.

“I have prepared the bulls by washing, clipping and videoing them leading on the halter from all angles.  

“We will have them on our own Facebook pages along with the online auction. It is very innovative to sell them under these circumstances and we hope to secure plenty of bidders to realise the best price.

“We are even happy to retain the bull under the purchase if the buyer can’t take it straight away.”