Several sales cancelled as the industry digs in defensive

2 March 2001

Several sales cancelled as the industry digs in defensive

The current foot-and-mouth

crisis has put many big

pedigree sales on hold.

Jeremy Hunt rounds up

FACED with growing fears over foot-and-mouth disease, Cheshire-based auctioneers Wright Manley decided to cancel last weeks monthly show and sale of the Western Holstein Club.

It was the first pedigree livestock sale casualty of the crisis and the first time the sale had been called off since the last foot-and-mouth outbreak in 1967.

David Briggs, of Wright Manley, said following consultations with club officials and MAFF it was decided that it would be in the best interests of both vendors and purchasers if the event was abandoned.

"We had already seen a few cattle arrive in the yard on Wednesday, but they werent unloaded and were taken back home.

"Everyone was very co-operative, but it was a mammoth task calling the sale off at the last minute," said Mr Briggs.

A frantic phone-calling marathon by auctioneers and club members alerted vendors of the cancellation. There were about 55 consignors intending to bring over 230 cattle from as far away as south Wales and Norfolk.

During the 1967 outbreak movement restrictions led to a group of in-milk heifers being held for several months at Crewes town centre auction mart.

"We had a batch of heifers at the market from October until February and we milked them every day until the restrictions were lifted," recalled Mr Briggs.

The next sale for the Western Holstein Club is in five weeks time, but like all booked sale fixtures, no-one knows if it will go ahead.

Borderway Mart, operated by Harrison and Hetherington, was just about to move into a full run of spring pedigree sales fixtures. The forthcoming Blonde dAquitaine Society show and sale has been cancelled and Aberdeen-Angus, Galloway and Whitebred Shorthorn events have also been hit. The mid-March sale for the British Charolais Cattle Society is also in doubt.

Heather Pritchard, head of the companys pedigree sales department, said all pedigree sales had been cancelled up to Mar 9 and future announcements would be made in line with livestock movement restrictions.

"But everyone has to try and look forward. We are assuming that May fixtures for beef breeds will go ahead.

"Although it may be difficult to think about at this time, breeders who are considering holding sales later in the year would be advised to start looking at possible dates."

Three weeks ago Perths sale yard was buzzing with 1000 pedigree bulls. This week should have seen 5000 prime sheep pass through the sales rings, but there were no bids for auctioneer David Leggat and his team at United Auctions.

"This is a very important time of year for stock farmers. Now everyone is holding their breath and waiting to see what happens next. It is very worrying situation," said Mr Leggat.

At Automart in Portadown, Northern Ireland, Libby Clarke said the pedigree livestock world was at a standstill.

"After the winter this is a time when pedigree breeders can usually look forward to some income."

The Northern Ireland Charolais and Limousin club sales scheduled for next week have both been cancelled, but have been tentatively booked for the following week. &#42


&#8226 Sales postponed indefinitely.

&#8226 Re-book sale if necessary.

&#8226 Busy sale period.

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