Like all markets around the UK, here at Leek we have had to adapt to the new regulations as a result of Covid 19 to continue trading.
We are to all intense and purposes an old fashioned market and a very busy one. A great deal of thought and initiative has had to be used to make us compliant which I know has resulted in a few sleepless nights by the Directors.
However with the help of good staff and the willingness of customers to comply to new regulations we have made it work. Numbers in all sections have been exceeding last years levels for the same period, no doubt helped by the publics very welcome shift to using local businesses for food which we all hope will continue.
Both the sheep and calf sections have seen numbers considerably increase through the month of June.
My personal experience of lockdown began with a blip when the dairy cow was not included within the initial food chain umbrella and so sales by auction stopped. For a few weeks private treaty was the way forward.
Whilst we do deal with many private sales of dairies my heart is and always will be in a rostrum and it is my absolute belief that in most situations this is the best method of sale for achieving the best results.
This is never more true now where the prices for all dairy stock have risen to levels beyond all expectations.
Defying what could be argued as absolute logic when suppliers such as Meadowfoods whose milk is predominantly to the catering industry slashed the milk price and others dictated a 10% reduction in supply to producers, the value of the dairy cow has held and continued to rise to amazing levels.
In our June pedigree sale we saw a third calver make £2600, many British Friesians cows and heifers over £2000 and In-calf heifers exceed £2000 with the entire entry averaging over £1700. A special entry of In-calf heifers and youngstock in just the last week saw yearlings to £850 and this week's herd sale from Lincolnshire saw the same to £900.
Why is this, is the obvious question. Numbers of cows nationally through June have been harder to come by so demand was exceeding supply. We also saw in a matter of weeks the spot price for milk rise to 30p and the value of cream almost doubling with milk buyers predicting a shortfall in production in the autumn. This rightly or wrongly has fueled some optimism. Many farmers have also been taking advantage of government funding that has been provided as a result of Covid.
Cow numbers over the last few weeks have seen a big jump within the weekly commercial section consistently touching 70. A total of 354 dairy stock have been traded through the ring at Leek in the last fortnight to include a special entry and a herd sale. Trade has eased only slightly with the best this week still to £2220 for a Norwegian Red X commercial heifer.
However common sense would suggest that these levels cannot be maintained indefinitely. Whilst its great for vendors and indeed for us as auctioneers there has to be sense in it for the purchaser as well and with margins as they are "the bubble will no doubt burst", it's just when.
The facts are though that there has never been a better time to sell livestock by auction so please support your local markets, they are an essential to maintain a transparent value for all livestock and a fair price.