Mayo Sligo Mart, Ballina, will become the first mart in the country to provide an online bidding service to its customers.

From next from Tuesday, September 2, sales in the mart will broadcast directly from the ring with live audio and video feed.

It will allow customers view real time auctions and bid for lots from anywhere in the world. There is a visual display in the sale ring for bidders around the sale ring to see that there are bidding against the floor or the internet. Viewing and bidding can be done on your laptop, smartphone or tablet.

Mart Manager Billy Loftus said: “We are trying to move with the times if we can. It’s really designed with part-time farmers in mind. We find more and more farmers in this area are part time and we were really looking to provide a service for them.”

Billy said that the marts busiest time of the year in terms of throughput of stock is from now up until Christmas. “So now really is a good time to get the service going.

“If somebody said 10 years ago that a farmer would be able to watch a cow calving on their phone they would be called ‘mad’. This is just a further step down the road in terms of technology and farming.”

“I would hope that in time up to 20% of stock could be sold in this way. But we are well aware that in the short term it’s likely to start off slow.”

Billy said that there is three potential scenarios were the service will be useful to customers.

“Firstly, the average customer that can’t make a sale because of work or other commitments can log on and see how the trade is going and see whether they might call not the mart later in the day.

“The second scenario is a guy who might call into the mart for an hour or so early in the day, but may not have time to stick around for the full sale. He can go back to his job or home and purchase the stock over the internet.

“Another potential scenario where this service could be useful is for buyers not in the locality who may be unable to make it over to Ballina.”

Billy noted that a lot of midlands buyers head west for stock this time of the year. “Buyers in this position could also just log on and buy over the web.”

How do you use the service?

Billy said that farmers that are interested in using the service should log onto and apply to use the online bidding service. They can then send their details onto the mart and the mart issues the buyer with their own username and password.