One of the Scotland's largest livestock co-operatives, Farm Stock (Scotland) Ltd, a farmer owned marketing group, has announced a record year for livestock throughput.

The co-op, which is now in its 21st year of operation, handled record numbers of sheep and cattle from April 2016 to March 2017. The number of cattle marketed was 6% higher than in the previous financial year, whilst sheep numbers, at more than 162,000 animals, increased by an impressive 14% in the same period.

“It is hugely encouraging, that more and more farmers are realising the benefits that co-operative marketing can bring to their sheep and cattle businesses,” said Farm Stock chairman, Ian Watson.

“Much of our increase in throughput has come from new farmers coming on board to sell their stock through us. As a co-op, we are not in business to make profit for shareholders – hence our very low commission rates – but first and foremost we aim to maximise returns to livestock producers.

“Our staff work to ensure the best achievable prices for stock on any given day. I am proud to say that this hard work has meant we achieved £2.30 per lamb more than SQQ price in 2016/17. That is a real boost to farmers profitability,” added Mr Watson.

Farm Stock’s roots lie in the Borders and southern Scotland, and is owned by five regional livestock marketing groups – Scott Country Lamb, Lothian Lamb, Galloway Lamb, Ayrshire Lamb and Caledonian Organics. Recent expansion has also seen staff and farmer members recruited up into central Scotland and over the border in Cumbria and Northumberland.

The Milk Suppliers Association, a 150-strong group of dairy farmers in Ayrshire, Wigtownshire and Dumfriesshire joined the Farm Stock co-operative in early 2017 in order to achieve better returns from cull cows.

The increase in numbers traded by Farm Stock has led to a year-on-year jump in turnover of over 22%, to stand at £15.4m for year 2016/17.

Farm Stock has also recently announced the appointment of Blairgowrie-based Brian Webster, who is charged with rolling out the benefits of the co-operative to farmers in the north and north east of Scotland. The appointment of Brian brings the number of field staff employed by the co-op up to 10, backed up by the admin team based at the new Farm Stock (Scotland) Ltd HQ in Selkirk.