Co-operate for better service
LIVESTOCK collection centres will work efficiently but only if both farmers and abattoirs co-operate, warned auctioneer Tony Thompson of Thirsk market, which began operating as a collection site on Mondays and Thursdays last week.
"There have been a few teething problems and some farmers who had booked stock in failed to turn up without letting us know," he said.
"It turned out that one person had sold his cattle off the farm a day earlier. I can understand that farmers are in a difficult position and they have to get the best possible price for their animals but it meant we had to let the abattoir down as we could not fill its order."
Thirsk held its first collection centre last Monday and handled just 23 cattle and 200 sheep. Numbers are expected to pick up, but Mr Thompson believed many farmers do not know that the centre is up and running.
He underlined the fact that only licensed livestock from "at risk areas" could be brought to Thirsk market and animals from restricted zones were not permitted. There would be no extra charges to farmers, other than the levies and commissions that normally applied, he said.
"The mart is standing the cost of the washing and disinfecting procedures required. We have separate loading and unloading bays for sheep and cattle, and stock are inspected by a vet before being transported for slaughter.
"Some abattoirs have specified that they will only pay deadweight prices, but others have allowed a choice between liveweight and deadweight selling, so all animals are weighed before leaving the market."
Truro Market in Cornwall also became a collection centre last Wednesday. Licensed for both sheep and cattle, auctioneer Jim Large, said it would start with sheep.
"It went really well. We had 150 sheep in, about half cull ewes and half lambs. It is particularly useful for those with a few cull ewes they want to get rid of."
He added that there had been very little waiting time, with stock being unloaded and vehicles disinfected very quickly. *