There is no doubt that the past 12 months have been a very difficult time for the dairy industry with the milk price crashing from a great  height during the latter half of 2015 writes Andy Clements, auctioneer and valuer with Greenslade Taylor Hunt, who is based at Sedgemoor Auction Centre, Junction 24, North Petherton. The impact of this crash  really started to take its toll on dairy farmers as the year 2016 commenced.  January brought with it some excellent sales to include the Hartlandview Herd from Andrew Lewis and the high yielding herd of PH Creed and Son which set the trade for the beginning of the year.

February saw the largest on farm dispersal for some years when 500 dairy cattle and surplus dairy equipment were sold in less than six  hours for FG Jeanes and Sons. The trade seemed brighter on the day thought to be due in part to the large numbers offered attracting over 60 successful purchasers.

Another large dispersal during the spring months was the Simmons family’s ‘Kingsfoll’ herd, this super herd attracted a large contingent of buyers around the sale ring and the trade appeared to strengthen.

The lack of dispersal sales through the summer was a surprise to  all but there is no doubt that this lack of supply helped the trade. Throughout the year smaller herd dispersals have taken advantage of the  opportunity to combine with our monthly collective sales with great  success. The main feature of the May Sale was the dispersals of the noted Westel and Barday herds. The Dorset and Devon herds respectively made the journey to Sedgemoor and their combined number with the usual  collective entry created a large amount of interest resulting in the much admired Westel Bossman Bet VG86-2yr topping the trade at 3000gns.

These monthly catalogued collective sales have proved ever popular and this year have provided the opportunity for a number of  phased dispersals, such as Keith and Jan Hulbert’s ‘Janke’ herd and  Richard and Moira Parkers ‘Grangemore’ herd who will continue to  disperse as they calve through 2017. Our numerous regular vendors at  these monthly sales must be applauded for selling some of their finest surplus stock and always being prepared to meet the trade dictated by  the farm gate milk price.

The success of the monthly sales is due to the combination of  smaller dispersals along with regular entries of fresh milk, youngstock and bulls showcasing a ‘one-stop’ shop for buyers enabling them to  travel to Sedgemoor with the confidence of knowing they will have no better opportunity of fulfilling their requirements for replacement  stock.

June saw the farm sales team back on farm for the dispersal of Paul Baker’s Friesians herd. With a mobile sale ring and our own penning  we travel all across the South and West to conduct sales in the herd’s natural surroundings. Despite being only small in number the Friesians were well sought after and attracted in excess of 30 purchasers.

As we drew on through the summer a flurry of dispersal sales came  to the fore to include the Minal herd from Wiltshire, the Yardgrove  herd from Blandford and the Dowervale Herd from Bridport. The Yardgrove herd contributed many of the year’s top prices for their well-bred pedigree herd that was also crowned the champion small herd in Dorset  just a week before the sale. The renowned old established Dowervale Herd  of the Cuff family deservedly produced the best youngstock trade of the  year which was no doubt helped by its inclusion in the year’s largest  monthly dairy sale of over 400 head which resulted in an excellent trade for all involved.
Each and every week of the year the weekly dairy section at Sedgemoor Auction Centre on a Saturday has had an average of 78 dairy cattle. This provides buyers a continued supply of dairy replacements even when dispersal sales are in short supply. This weekly sale is not catalogued but entries are listed on the website every Friday to inform potential purchasers the range of freshly calved cows and heifers plus youngstock that are available each Saturday.

In October the decision was made to hold Anthony Jeanes’s dispersal sale on farm at Ilminster. His ‘Malherbie’ herd retained its pedigree status and although no longer milk recorded its reputation for  class stock drew a large contingent of buyers from across the country  for the cattle on offer.

As autumn progressed two large dispersal sales were held at Sedgemoor with Stuart and Marie Thomas from Minehead and the Grey family from Gloucestershire both dispersing their herds. The reputation of the  Greys “Symondshall” herd attracted buyers from across the South and  Wales making the most of the quality cattle on offer and the ease of  access for Sedgemoor Auction Centre.

Sedgemoor Auction Centre’s easy  access and great location at Junction 24 of the M5 makes it the ideal  place to bring cattle. Many travel from all across the South of England -  from Penzance to Gloucester and all the way across to Kent as well as a  large amount from South Wales; with vendors regularly travelling across from Carmarthen. This we believe truly cements Sedgemoor’s reputation as the dairy centre of the South.

To conclude the year as is traditional we celebrate our last monthly sale with a Christmas Show and Sale accompanied by complimentary mulled wine and mince pies. Our grateful thanks go to all those that provided the sponsorship for the show and all those that participated to  make this a great day. This year’s sale also featured a Christmas Calf  Sale that we are pleased to report was very well supported with a six  month old calf, Sahara Solomon Jamaica selling for 2100gns. In addition this year’s sale also generated the year’s top price for the Freshly  Calved VG two year old Normandy Lila Z Appleman selling for 4000gns.

So looking forward to a New Year and what 2017 may bring? The milk price is rising and the optimism within the industry is at an 18 month high, although the void of 2016 still needs to be filled current indications are if things continue to improve that we will all be looking at a much  brighter 2017.

The year’s top prices include:
4000gns Normandy Lila Z Appleman Red VG-2yr
3600gns Yardgrove Goldwyn Ona VG87
3000gns Westel Bossman Bet VH86-2yr
2700gns Starlet Explode Sheen VG87-2yr
2700gns Westel Shottle Bet VG86-2yr
2600gns Linlake SH Talent Jeanette Ex90
2600gns Penrikka Dempsey Inka VG88
2550gns Sahara McCutchen Bashful
2500gns Panda African Gold VG-2yr
2500gns Yardgrove Fever Ona VG87
2500gns Yardgrove Seagual Regina VG87

The 2016 Show Year for Sedgemoor Stock
This year there has  been numerous successes for stock purchased through Sedgemoor, congratulations to the breeders who offered the animals for sale and also the purchasers who have continued to develop them and turn them out to a superb standard.

Moorshard Dude Paradise VG89 – Champion South West Dairy Event and Welsh Dairy Show
Sahara Supersonic Jennie VG89 – Honourable Mention Livestock show, Champion Devon County Show and Frome Show
Treetop Alection Vanessa VG89 – Champion Honiton Show
Yardgrove Fever Ona VG87 – 1st Junior 3 yearr old Irish National Show
Dowervale Bradnick Whitetime – 1st All Britain Calf show February born