It’s business as usual at Ayr Mart over the festive season with sales continuing through the traditional holiday period albeit on a slightly different schedule. Our usual Monday markets will move to Saturday for prime sheep to align with when the abattoirs are slaughtering but as far as we’re concerned, we’re expecting our usual numbers to pass through the mart.

As the rest of the country rushes to get their turkey orders in time for Christmas, beef sales have started to deteriorate after peaking last month to allow for 30 day hanging. Elsewhere fat cattle are doing well as the deadweight price starts to come back although there is a limited amount available.

It’s been quite a year with the weather but after a long dry summer, and mild autumn there’s been a flush of grass which has caused the price per head of store lambs to rise as farmers put the cattle inside and put sheep back onto the grass. Store cattle in general have stayed fairly static with the weathered beasts harder to cash.

Looking ahead we’re expecting a slow start in January, but things should soon pick up as long we don’t get hit by the Beast from the East again! Weather wise we definitely don’t want to see a start of the year like last. Ideal conditions would be drier with a bit of frost as long as it’s not too mild for cattle indoors.

Market changes are hard to predict but as a general rule it’s following the price of feeding and deadweight as the cost of feed continues to rise. There’s certainly no cheap way to feed stock. However, the market system has done its job, allowing farmers to change plans mid-season, reacting to weather, variations in feed prices and general market demand.

Overall, we can’t complain about the past year, despite inevitable weekly variations, throughput here in Ayr has remained broadly level with last year.

On behalf of all my fellow IAAS members, happy Christmas all!

William Hamilton is an Auctioneer at Craig Wilson Ltd, a member of the Institute of Auctioneers and Appraisers in Scotland.