Thriving livestock market gives boost to town's trade
A Westcountry livestock market is thriving – against the national trend – following the decision of two firms of auctioneers to join forces.
While markets across the country have struggled with declines in livestock sales, reflected in a report on BBC's Countryfile on Sunday, the throughput of animals at Newton Abbot has shown a significant increase on last year.
Sheep have increased by 61%, finished cattle are up 82% and store cattle up 28%.
The monthly horse sales have gone from strength to strength with entries of 385 horses and ponies and over 3,500 lots of tack and equipment.
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The increase coincides with auctioneers Sawdye & Harris and Rendells joining forces six months ago to take over the running of the market. Previously they had worked separately, alternating between morning and afternoon trade.
Now such is the demand from both buyers and sellers, the store cattle sales are held on a fortnightly basis rather than monthly. Primestock sales of cattle and sheep are held every week.
Jim Stephens, who farms at Crediton, said: "The market is thriving and it's a very positive for the area. Farmers and buyers like to know where the stock comes from and they have been reared here on farms in South Devon. The new auctioneer arrangement is very well thought of in the locality."
Phil Cleave, who farms at Holne, said: "It's our local market and buyers who come understand where the stock has originated. It's the best place to come to find the best price between us, the farmer, and the buyer. It's a very buoyant market at the moment."
While this is good news for farmers, it is also proving beneficial to the town, with an increase in the number of visitors.
John Fisher, a former policeman, who now mans the livestock market entrance, said: "There has been a dramatic increase in the number of people coming to buy and sell stock. It's been good for the town centre because visitors to the market are supporting the town's economy too, by spending with local traders. We also find holiday makers come to see the markets."
Auctioneer Gordon Chambers said: "Our numbers have gone up. We get buyers from across the country, from Hull to East Anglia and down into Cornwall. As a consequence the number of stock being sold is increasing."
Last Wednesday Newton Abbot held a sale of 348 store cattle, which is unprecedented for the time of year. "In today's climate, this is a substantial number of cattle and entries for our November Sales are again well up on previous years," said Mr Chambers