Farmers from all over the UK descended on the north-east yesterday for the dispersal sale of the last dairy herd in Banffshire.
Geddes Chalmers, who farms at Drum Farm, near Keith, dispersed the entire milking portion of his herd at Thainstone.
Buyers flocked from as far north as Shetland and as far south as Abergele in North Wales to place their bids on more than 140 Holstein Friesian cattle from the Drum herd.
Mr Geddes, 64, said it was a day of “mixed emotions”.
He said although he was happy with the trade, he was sad that the sale marked the closure of another dairy farm in the region.
“I’m happy to have sold the cows up here rather than taken them further south, and that was mainly because of the interest expressed beforehand from the island buyers,” said Mr Geddes.
“There’s mixed emotions. I’m happy with the prices I have got for the cattle, but I’m disappointed that it’s another dairy herd in the north-east of Scotland gone. Our processor isn’t interested in dairy farmers up here even though the conditions up here are well suited to dairy farming.”
Last week Mr Geddes revealed that his decision to retire from the industry and sell his farm had been hastened by dairy giant Muller’s decision to shut the only milk processing plant in the region last year.
Rather than accepting new contract terms and paying a 1.75p a litre transport levy to have his milk hauled south for processing, Mr Geddes gave the company 12 months’ notice to quit.
Mr Geddes also expressed disappointment that his 500-acre farm, which is being marketed through Savills, could not continue as a dairy unit despite interest from potential buyers. He said Muller had said it was not willing to take on new suppliers in the area.
Yesterday’s sale, which was conducted by Aberdeen and Northern Marts auctioneer Colin Slessor, topped at £1,750 a third-calver giving 47.4kg. She sold, having run with Deveronside Chicharito, to John Forbes of Slains Park, Kinneff, Montrose.
Mr Forbes also paid the second best price of £1,700 twice, purchasing a total of 19 lots from the Drum herd.
Another buyer paying £1,700 for an entry, and buying eight lots in total, was G. and A. Taylor, Upper Braiklay, Methlick, Ellon.
Local buyers in attendance included G. A. Gibb of Netherton, New Pitsligo, Fraserburgh, and well-known ice cream maker Mackies Ltd of Westertown, Rothienorman, Inverurie.
A Welsh buyer – G. P. Williams, of Bryn Dansi, Dolwea, Abergele – bought 21 lots, and Dumfriesshire farmers N. Forsyth of Oswie Farm, Newton Stewart and W. R. Wilson of Kelton, Castle Douglas, were also successful with their bids.
Orkney buyers included J Scott and Son of Caldale, St Ola, Kirkwall, and Berriedale Farms of South Ronaldsay. Quendale Farms at Dunrossness, Shetland, and I. D. Leslie of Munlochy in Rossshire were also successful with their bids.