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Market price platform provides competitive advantage for sheep farmer

Posted on: 3rd May, 2024

The Livestock Auctioneers’ Association (LAA) launched the new Market Prices platform, as the destination for live sheep, cattle and pig prices from the livestock markets across England and Wales, at the start of the year.

Officially going live from the 9 January, thousands of users have since subscribed and provided their feedback as the new system starts to be embraced by industry.

“Since the launch, we have been encouraged by the uptake and feedback. Overall, the feedback has been extremely positive, and the enhanced features welcomed, but as with any new platform, there is always a little uncertainty and it is fair to say, scrutiny.”

“It has always been our intention to continue to develop and streamline the platform, and we are encouraging user feedback to play a key part in that process.”  explains LAA development officer Zanna Dennis.

Free access to market prices

“One of our main early challenges, has been to make sure market customers are signing up for the services they are entitled to, and for regular mart customers, that means entirely free access to the Daily Prices subscription plan,” she adds.

Anyone who buys or sells regularly in one of LAA’s member markets is entitled to the Daily Prices plan free of charge, by simply providing their unique livestock market account number, usually found on their local mart sales invoice or statement.

This plan provides daily updates on store and finished livestock, with the option to view prices by day of the week, by individual livestock markets, and to monitor regional and national trends.

“We recognised that some users had automatically signed up to the Weekly Prices plan, unaware they were entitled to daily updates,” explains Ms Dennis.

“Users can very simply upgrade to the package they are entitled to, and the sign-up process has been simplified to direct market users to the Daily Prices plan. 

“Of course, they do also have the option to upgrade to the premium packages at any time, or indeed return to the plan that works best for their needs,” she adds.

The platform is under constant development, and in response to early feedback, one feature upgrade has been to increase the frequency of updates on the Daily Prices plan. There are now two updates, at 12 noon and 8pm daily.

Another update has seen the introduction of a new ‘view by day of the week’ feature, whereby users can select a day of the week, and a list of all markets with a sale on that selected day will be displayed.

“These updates, along with other additions, have all been based on the on-going feedback we are receiving from our users, and we will continue to develop the platform accordingly,” says Ms Dennis.

Informed decisions

Of-course, the proof is in the pudding. North Lancashire sheep farmer Mark Townley has been an early adopter of the new platform, having for a long-time relied on accurate market prices data when deciding when to market his lambs and old ewes.

“I generally look at the platform Monday to Thursday, whether I am selling or not, to get a rough idea of numbers and prices in auction. That data helps us to make informed decisions on whether to market or not, or if so, how many to take,” he says.

“With the new platform, I can instantly login, and dip in and out as and when I need to monitor trends. I find the nationwide updates across England and Wales particularly useful, alongside individual mart comparisons.

“It is a valuable tool for me, particularly understanding the numbers. If numbers are a bit bigger, generally the trade will be a bit easier. The number of stock at auction is a big factor on the price on that day.

According to Mr Townley, marketing at the right time is key, and this is particularly the case when things aren’t quite as good, and markets are difficult.

“I may be looking at Monday prices, for example, ahead of planning to sell lambs on a Wednesday. If those prices have eased off on Monday, I will maybe leave it a week.

“I can decide whether to put a bit more weight on the lamb and sell a week later, as there is always a market for good lamb. The platform really helps to make informed decisions, and to have that instant ease of access now, is even better,” he says.

Chris Dodds, LAA executive secretary adds, “The move to the new platform has been designed to allow for a greater level of market scrutiny, providing ease of access, and bringing better insights and more regular live updates to farm businesses and mart customers.

”We welcome the continued feedback and will continue to develop the service as part of our on-going drive to bring people, auction markets and prices together in one live hub.”