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Fearn farming family to run first online breeding cattle sale at turn of year


By Hector MacKenzie

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INNOVATIVE livestock farmers in Easter Ross are setting the scene for their first online breeding cattle sale in January 2021.

The Scott family at Fearn Farm, in Easter Ross, aim to follow the success of their yourbid ram sale in August, which proved an ideal solution given the current uncertainties regarding Covid-19 restrictions.

John Scott explained: “At Fearn, we strive to produce high health top quality stock from forage-based diets. Our new online sale allows us to sell stock direct from farm, putting minimal stress on the animals and our staff. It will also allow buyers across the UK and further afield the opportunity to purchase stock from their farm office, tractor seat, or in person on-farm subject to government guidelines, and where social distancing measures will be adhered to."

The yourbid system was developed by David and George Giddings of Meadowslea Genetics, New Zealand. They integrated an online bidding option for their stud Angus female sale earlier this year while New Zealand was in lockdown. After seeing the success of the sale, Fearn Farm teamed up with the McGowan family of Incheoch, Blairgowrie to bring the Helmsman style online auction system to the UK for the first time in summer.

“We first used yourbid earlier this year for our on-farm ram sale and found it worked really well for our system. Like a silent auction, all lots are offered for sale at the same time,” said Mr Scott.“The main difference is the online sale will only come to an end when there are no further bids on any lot.”

Shorthorb cow and calf at Fearn Farm.
Shorthorb cow and calf at Fearn Farm.

Forty-two animals will be offered for sale with videos of the cattle and a detailed catalogue including performance figures, genetics and weights available from next month.

Mr Scott said: “This is an exciting time for us as a business, we believe in our product and are delighted that we can use this platform once again in the UK, giving farmers and crofters the opportunity to buy the genetics they need to drive their herds forward in uncertain times.”

The family currently run 100 pedigree Shorthorn cows under the Fearn prefix which was founded in 1995. John explains how the upcoming sale will give buyers the chance to purchase stock with genetics linking to some highly sought bloodlines.

Added Mr Scott: “We have several bull and heifer lots sired by Fearn Godfather, who was originally sold for 10,000gns, then bought back three years later at auction for 20,000gns.

“He is one of the highest performance recorded animals in the breed and is a trait leader for calving ease; 200, 400- and 600-day weights; carcass weight and rib fat.”

“Other sires include Fearn Elmer - who needs no introduction - with sons selling privately to 10,000gns, averaging over £5,000 for 25 sold to date and his daughters are breeding extremely well within the herd.

Shorthorb cow and calf at Fearn Farm.
Shorthorb cow and calf at Fearn Farm.

“He is possibly the easiest fleshing bull that we have bred at Fearn, with one of his sons likely to be retained for our own use next year.”

The Luing offering will see bulls and bulling heifers available from the 50-cow Scotsburn herd which is managed by the Scott family through a contract farming agreement, as well as progeny from the 50-cow Sutherland herd which is run by Scott Farming Co. Both these herds have been founded on the Cadzow Bros Luing genetics.

Mr Scott said: “All of the cattle for sale have been produced on grass and forage-based diets. Stock are part of Johnes level 1 and BVD accredited herds and have been double vaccinated for BVD, with the heifers also vaccinated for Lepto. All bulls forward will be semen tested prior to the sale.”

The sale will go live on January 12 and run until January 22.Potential buyers can visit the farm to view stock by arranging an appointment.

Prospective buyers can also pre-register to visit the farm on the final day of bidding and will be able to view a large screen where they can bid, using either a smart phone or bidding slips.

Mr Scott added: “Bidding will be up and running online for ten days before the sale, but things should get interesting in the last hour or so on sale day.We expect that Covid-19 will encourage most bidders to operate from home but wanted to make it possible for those who want to be here to do so.”

Related: Online sale hits the spot in Easter Ross with bids from Cornwall to Shetland

Fearn Farm hooks up with New Zealand firm to trailblaze new bidding system during Covid-19 crisis



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