Gisburn auction mart in Lancashire was forced to cancel its regular Saturday sale (May 5) as a result of an investigation by the county’s Trading Standards and the Animal and Plant Health Agency.
A single ewe and its lamb were reported to be grazing a field opposite the market where effluent from the previous Thursday’s primestock and dairy sale had been applied by sprinkler system.
Richard Turner, principal of Richard Turner and Son, auctioneers and secretaries to the market, explained it was a condition of the market’s operating licence that the designated fields should not be grazed for 28 days after manure or dirty water application.
Mr Turner said: “Market staff had checked the field before turning on the sprinkler system and not seen any livestock. However, on Thursday evening we understand Trading Standards, who had not been in the market that day, reported evidence of the sheep in the field.
“On Friday we investigated and it was apparent the ewe and lamb had found a gap in the adjoining dairy farm’s boundary fence.
"They are now detained on that field for 28 days until any risk of contamination has disappeared, and the market licence was revoked by the Animal and Plant Health Agency on Friday afternoon. I should point out the field is on the opposite side of the busy A59 to the market and has a separate holding number.”
Market staff had to telephone more than 300 disappointed buyers and vendors on Friday (May 4) and Gisburn auction lost thousands of pounds worth of business.
Mr Turner added: “Thanks to the vigilance of Trading Standards, they protect their own jobs, while market staff and hundreds of customers lose an important day’s trading for the sake of one ewe and lamb detained in a field full of well grown grass for 28 days."
The market was hopeful of having the operating licence back in place, after inspection, for Thursday’s sale (May 10).