Meet you at the market - Hailsham Livestock market
PUBLISHED: 11:50 25 March 2010 | UPDATED: 16:57 20 February 2013
Hailsham has held a market charter since 1252 and is now the only livestock sales in the county. For many it is as much of a social event as a chance to buy and sell. Kate Eastman went to meet some of the people on a market day.
Roger has been working as an auctioneer at Hailsham market for more than 20 years and previously was at Haywards Heath market.
I have been working as an auctioneer and agricultural evaluator since leaving college 45 years ago, explains David. I am a son of a mid Sussex farmer hence the interest in livestock markets. Instead of going to work on my fathers farm I took up auctioneering professionally.
Rogers job involves selling the livestock and machinery for farmers in the catchment area of Hailsham market in the South East. With my experience I know how much its worth, its not an exact science but I know a band of value which all comes with experience. What I like most about my job is working with people who speak the same language as me, plus working with the livestock and being outside.
Gradually across the county all the other livestock markets have closed in Sussex and now Hailsham is the only market left. In my 40+ years experience Ive witnessed all the other livestock markets close in Sussex, says Roger. Today the nearest one to the east is Ashford in Kent and to the west Salisbury in Hampshire. This is why it is so important to keep this market running.
Last year Hailsham market sold more than 10,000 cattle and 47,000 sheep all auctioned by Roger and his colleague Nick Young.
The most I have sold a cow for was 3,000 but on average the best a dairy cow will sell for 1,500-2,000 and the best beef could fetch 1,100-1,250 which we have more of in Sussex, explains Roger. Today we sold 350 store cattle, which are sold for further breeding and fattening. The area is renowned for good grazing ground for the cattle with the surrounding Pevensey Marshes which is why Hailsham was chosen for the location of the market because of its close proximity to the marshes.
Nigel is a local farmer from Hawkhurst near Tunbridge Wells he decided to come to Hailsham market to sell his 22 cattle.
I would like to get around 500 for one cow today, explains Nigel. Roger Walters the auctioneer wont sell them if he thinks they havent met their correct price.
Nigel has been coming to Hailsham for six years, We always like this one because its such a friendly market. This place is so special because of the atmosphere and the breakfast is second to none, laughs Nigel.
Nigel also sells sheep on a Wednesday and on that day he would also buy sheep and calves.
I buy calves on Wednesdays, I dont buy the expensive ones but I usually buy a few, I would look to buy one for about 150, explains Nigel. Most of them come direct from the farmer; I would then rear them for 18 months and then sell them back here at the market. At the moment weve got about 450 in total.
Farmer and Ringsman
Rogers has been coming to this market for 40 years, he buys and sells cattle at this market and he works as a ringsman.
Its a good job and a lovely place to work, I do the ring which involves letting the cattle in and driving them around the ring for the buyers to have a look at and diving out the way when they come for you! explains Roger.
Hes the only reason we put bullocks in the ring because hes so good at driving them around, hes a fantastic rings man, explains a fellow farmer.
Roger is also selling six bullocks and will also look at buying if the price was right. I would like to get 550-600 for one bullock, today is a store day which means the cattle hasnt got any meat on it and hasnt got a nice surround, its your job to fatten it up, says Roger.
When Im buying one I look for profit, I breed all of ours but I also buy a few calves and cows but we dont buy any to fatten up. I would be willing to spend 900-1000 on a cow or calf but it depends on its looks, age, confirmation, how healthy it is, its build; there are many factors to look out for. People want bullocks for different jobs, on a supermarket bullock you want a nice lean one with lots of meat on it, a butchers bullock wants to have a little bit of fat on it because the fat is the cover and makes it cook nicer.
Mark has been coming to Hailsham market for 12 years from Oxfordshire. I live near Banbury, Oxfordshire and have driven down especially for todays auction. Im looking for a wide variety of cattle for my large client list including Angus, best continental, heifer to Bull, explains Mark.
I would love to buy 60-70 today but I might only buy 15 it depends on who is here, the trade. I love coming down here because theyre good people and the cattle go on and do well from here, they put a lot of weight on. The land around here is very soft and chalky, I buy them and take them onto stronger ground and fatten them up.
Mark used to be an auctioneer himself so he is well versed in seeing what makes a good deal. There are cattle here worth between 250-750 depending on their size, breed, sex, all sorts. Youve got to have enough milk, fair jugs, and a breast which stays with milk without getting droopy, if they sag theyre out because the calves cant get down to them. For the fat cattle, you have to judge what size theyre going to be and what shape theyre going to be when they get fat.
Farmer and Drover
David has always farmed in the local area of Golden Cross and Hankham and lives in Polgate. His farming family goes back many generations, all the generations I can think of have been farmers, Ive been coming here to Hailsham market for over 40 years, explains David. Im a farmer but I also help out here as a Drover. What that means is I help to guide the cattle in and batch them up before it all begins. You have to have someone here who knows what theyre doing with the cattle so this is why I help. I still buy and sell cattle but I mostly deal with sheep.
David has been a member of the Hailsham market action group to keep the market open for 12 years, its been under thereat for a very long time and still is now. A few years ago Tesco wanted to buy the market, we went up to Westminster and spoke to the MPs to have the appeal squashed and get the planning chucked out which worked.
Hailsham is to the east of the main A22 Eastbourne to London road and to the north of the A27 South Coast trunk road. Hailsham market is on Market Street in the centre of the town.Satnav: BN27 2AG