Ballyjamesduff Mart: How does the online sale work?

As marts continue to find workable solutions around the Covid-19 pandemic, online sales have proved to be a major success in marts dotted across the country.

In recent weeks, we have witnessed marts move away from the traditional auction – which is not permitted at the moment – and are now running auctions online with cattle moving through the sale rings with no farmers present.

One of the most recent marts to offer an online sales service is Ballyjamesduff Mart in Co. Cavan, with the sale facilitated by MartEye.

MartEye is a relatively new company which was started during the Covid-19 crisis to help marts operate and sell livestock online.

To date, there are seven marts in Ireland providing online sales through MartEye – Ballyjamesduff, Tullow, Dowra, Enniscorthy, Macroom, Thurles and Castleisland – which is due to go live tomorrow, Wednesday, May 20.

More marts are expected to launch this platform in the coming weeks.

At Ballyjamesduff, the online sale is very straightforward. Farmers with cattle to sell make an appointment to drop off their animals prior to the sale; the farmer/driver does not exit his/her vehicle.

The video (below) shows how the online platform works.

Mart staff number and pen these animals before potential buyers have a viewing period of roughly one hour. Only two buyers are allowed to view the cattle in the yard at anyone time, while adhering to social distancing practices.

These buyers must then register to bid online, before being approved by the mart. Once approved, the farmer will be able to bid for animals online; a video of the animal in the ring – along with all relevant ‘mart-board’ information – is viewable.

Naturally, the animal is sold to the highest bid with all animals sold subject. Once the seller has been notified and has agreed on the price, the animal is detailed as sold and penned accordingly. The buyer then makes an appointment to collect his/her purchased stock.

Commenting on the online sales, Ballyjamesduff Mart manager John Tevlin said: “We had our first online sale at the mart last Tuesday [May 12] and it was a tremendous success; it is working very well.

Ballyjamesduff Mart prior to Covid-19 restrictions

“We have bidders from all over the country. Some farmers bid from their vehicle outside the mart while others return home to do so. We are also facilitating farmers that might not be as ‘tech-savy’, but the online platform is extremely straightforward.

“It’s an easy-to-follow, independent system,” John added.

Additionally, sales at the Cavan-based venue have changed slightly, with heifers, weanlings and bullocks taking place on Tuesdays, while cows, calves and runners are sold on Wednesdays.

MartEye

The newly-launched company – MartEye – is a collaboration between two Irish agritech companies – Agricam.ie and HerdEye. The platform made its debut four weeks ago and has been working well ever since.

Speaking to AgriLand, HerdEye’s Jamie Nolan said: “The system itself is very user friendly and numbers have increased week-on-week at the various marts; we are working with more marts to allow farmers trade livestock.

“Also, we have been working with the numerous marts recently and we believe we have a system that will change the way marts operate going forward.

“When some normality returns, we will have a system that will match online bidding to ringside bidding – a facility that no other platform has and this has been tried and tested in four marts.

“This system was designed by the marts for the marts,” he concluded.

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