Norwich Livestock Market heading for record turnover

The return of the Fur & Feather auction at Norwich Livestock Market. Auctioneer, David Ball in actio

The return of the Fur & Feather auction at Norwich Livestock Market. Auctioneer, David Ball in action. Picture: Denise Bradley - Credit: Archant 2013

A record year is on the cards for Norwich Livestock Market, said one of the founder directors.

David Ball, operations director and part-time auctioneer, said that the independent and farmer-run market, was set to have a record turnover of about £10m in the latest financial year.

Two special sales planned – of machinery and deadstock today – and the fifth fur and feather sale tomorrow, would boost turnover.

Mr Ball said that the revival of the fur and feather sales, which resumed after about 20 years in February, had been a further boost. 'We're looking to have turned over £10m in the last financial year. It is very good and will be up on last year. Our 11th year of trading will be the best year and we celebrated the 10th anniversary sale last year,' he added.

A recent Saturday sale had seen turnover of more than £250,000 as increasing numbers of stock, especially sheep, had been sold through the fortnightly market. 'We have had the best show of cattle, the quality has improved, the sheep numbers have gone through the roof. We're persistently having 600 or 700 sheep every fortnightly sale,' said Mr Ball.

But the challenge was to attract support for the market as stock numbers have continued to dwindle over the past few years. 'We have to keep trying to sell everything we can,' he added.

Another success had been the sale of calves, which had been built up with support from dairy farmers and provided an outlet to market calves for finishing.

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'We've had support from Norfolk dairy farmers including Ken Proctor and Tom Crawford,' said Mr Ball. 'We've even had calves selling for £400 which is a tremendous trade,' he added.

The directors were keen to invest to improve the service to both sellers and buyers. 'We want to put up a computer display screen in the main sale ring so that vendors can see the dates of birth, the ages and owners of the cattle. It will take us forward and will make us more efficient.'

A fund-raising event was planned this autumn, partly to raise funds to raise money for an agricultural charity and also have a harvest supper celebration.

The eastern region's higher official TB status had also helped the market. A TB breakdown at Dereham, now resolved, and an on-going one at Dickleburgh, near Diss, were constant reminders of the threat of bovine TB. It is understood that restrictions may be imposed today.

There was success too for the market's company secretary Anita Padfield and her partner Paul Barwood, of Potter Heigham, near Great Yarmouth. They took the reserve supreme commercial championship with a Limousin cross Red Ruby. The 15-month-old heifer, which won the special award for best butcher's beast under 500kg, was reserve to another Limousin from TA & LC Lyon, of Bourne, Lincolnshire.