By Alastair Logan, auction operations manager at Caledonian Marts

After 41 years as an auctioneer there’s not much I haven’t seen at the ring but the bottom line is we’re here because we just want to sell livestock. Over the years there’s been plenty folk coming in, trying to tell us what to do – some for the better, and some, well, not so much.

The latest pilot scheme for EID in cattle is one we’re happy to embrace though. While it does undoubtedly create some additional work for farmers ahead of time, it definitely makes life easier for buyers and sellers in the market.

Rather than trying to catch a beast to read its tag it’s simply automatically scanned on the way in to the ring, making everything much smoother for everyone.

In the short term it is inevitably going to add some costs in implementation, but as far as we’re concerned the benefits of being able to monitor stock throughout their lifetime and improve traceability through the food chain far outweigh any negatives.

It seems to us that consumers and all the major buyers will continue to demand ever higher standards, and EID is a key part of that story.

Elsewhere, ringside chatter continues to be dominated by the prospect of a ‘no deal Brexit’. With at least 40% of our lamb exported across the channel, concerns that a surcharge will eventually be picked up by the farmer as a result of exporters not paying as much for their lambs is a big concern during this time of uncertainty.

At present numbers and prices of prime hoggs have been very similar to last year and looking ahead to spring, we should start to see a jump up in prices over the next few weeks, which will dictate how the year is going to pan out.

In the cast section it’s been a struggle to sell ewes for months now, with very limited demand. The weather has been a Godsend this year but we’re at the the point where the cost of feed is really starting to hurt.