By Paul Spencer, sales director at Dingwall and Highland Marts Ltd, and a member of IAAS

It’s been an encouraging start to 2020 here in the Highlands with our first prime sheep sale of the year seeing 900 lambs pass through the ring at 206p per kg, which compares favourably to this time last year when our lambs averaged 191p.

This certainly gets us off to a positive start after what we would view as a successful 2019 at Dingwall Mart and our other centres. The tail end of the season rounded off the year for us nicely with 10,000 more sheep being sold compared to the previous year.

We’re pleased to report the sheep trade has been firm from start to finish and it’s a similar story with calves. We’ve experienced a lot of confidence in buying and selling through the ring across all our sales from September through to late November.

Among our highlights for 2019 was our annual show and sale of Cheviot rams where we sold an impressive two-shear for £10,500 giving us a new centre record.

Looking ahead to the coming months we’ll continue to diversify our business streams to increase income and cement our position as a strong business here in the Highlands.

Our implement sales and weekly antique and furniture sales both provide a solid revenue stream along with our windmill and biomass.

Another new direction for us will be our first Highland sheep dog sale on March 21, which allows us to test the water in new markets. We’re pleased to add a new dimension for our customers and this event has already attracted a keen interest across the Highlands.

We have a loyal client base across all our centres at Dingwall, Skye, Fort William, Uist and Stornaway and the guarantee they get from selling through the mart keeps them coming back. That coupled with our young, capable, enthusiastic team drives us to keep diversifying our business to move with the times and deliver for farmers and crofters across the Highlands.