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Life behind the hammer

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By Fiona Reid
Life behind the hammer

AUCTIONEER Glyn Lucas shared a glimpse into the livestock world with members of Lockerbie Rotary Club.

He was their guest speaker last week and discussed his career in agriculture.

Glyn, from Annan, now works for Harrison and Hetherington at the Borderway Livestock Market, but travelled the world prior to his Carlisle post.

He said: “My wife Hazel and I are both from Northern Ireland, I grew up on the family farm before emigrating to south western Ontario, Canada where we bought a farm. It was here I met a lot of influential people who got me interested in Holstein dairy cattle, probably the most popular dairy breed in the world. I got to work with some of the absolute best Holstein cattle in the world.

“I have always had an interest in showing cattle having, as a teenager, represented Ireland at the ‘All Britton Holstein Show’ where I was champion showman in 1995. I also became accomplished at preparing and grooming animals and I got to travel all around the world.

“I got to visit shows and made contact with many top breeders, at events like the ‘World Dairy Expo’ in Wisconsin, USA; European Show in Bergamo, Italy; the Madison Show in the US, the National Holstein Show in England; the ‘Baileys Show’ in Virginia, America. This also allowed me the opportunity to visit many breeders worldwide.

“I still enjoy showing cattle, but my business now is selling them.”

His employers are Harrison and Hetherington, the largest auction company in Europe, and he said: “Even allowing for the difficulties of the past 12 months, we have had a wonderful year in business, surpassing the one million animals sold.

“I focus my time on selling dairy livestock, we have two main sales every month, a commercial sale and a pedigree sale, and between those we have general breeders’ sales. We also do on-farm sales as well and I recollect a sale in Donegal, Northern Ireland in February just before covid where we sold 1896 cows over three days, the largest on-farm sale to have taken place in the British Isles.”

Over the last few years, Glyn has been involved in developing platforms for exporting UK genetics around the world.

It started in 2005 when the country was recovering from the restrictions of BSE and he set up breeder sales for elite European cattle breeders to come and import UK genetics.

The Red Ribbon Sale is another event, that focuses on show cattle, while the main dairy sale is the black and whites in December, which is considered the ‘shop window’ for genetics.

And he is particularly proud of the UK Dairy Expo, which launched in 2012 and has become the largest dairy forum in the country.

Glyn described how covid has changed auctioneering, saying: “We recognised the importance of the auction system for UK farmers, realising the necessity of it as a particularly important link in the food chain. This resulted in having to develop online bidding, and since then about 37 per cent of all dairy cattle have been purchased online through our live sales, which has been a dramatic change in our business.

“Another system we have used successfully is a timed auction system similar to Ebay. The online sales have opened up new markets for us and in a ‘Global Connection’ sale in April, we had bidders from Switzerland, Australia, USA, as well as other countries around the world. This probably would not have happened if we had not been forced into it by the covid pandemic.”

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