Cattle market returns to Suffolk

Eldon Farm in Holywell Row is launching its new cattle market next week. Fabian Eagle (left) and Bri

Eldon Farm in Holywell Row is launching its new cattle market next week. Fabian Eagle (left) and Brian Rutterford are pictured. - Credit: Archant

A regular cattle market is set to return to Suffolk for the first time since the 1990s.

The Wednesday market, to be held fortnightly at an established weekly market at Eldon Farm, Holywell Row, near Mildenhall, will initially only feature cattle from the host farmer’s own 700-strong herd of native breeds.

But auctioneer Fabian Eagle and host farmer Brian Rutterford will use the experience they gain from selling his stock as a trial run for bringing cattle from outside vendors on site. It is hoped, subject to gaining the relevant permissions and some fine-tuning on site, they will be able to host multiple vendor cattle sales within a couple of months.

The first sale, which takes place on Wednesday, will feature “a good mix” of around 25 to 30 head of cattle from Mr Rutterford’s herd, which includes Highlands, British Whites and Longhorns, he said. Young heifers, stores, cows and calves will feature, he added.

Several hundred people attend the weekly market, which sells poultry, rabbits, farm equipment and miscanthus (or elephant grass), a bedding material grown on the farm.

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“There seems to be quite a few people who are interested, so that’s encouraging,” he said. “The more selection of different things we can get, the better.”

Mr Rutterford, who owns 1100 acres of land and farms 2500 acres, growing a variety of crops, including arable, potatoes, onions and sugar beet, recently spent around £150,000 on new cattle buildings to house his cattle over winter and to host the market.

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Mr Eagle, who worked as a freelance poultry auctioneer at the Bury St Edmunds livestock market, the last of its kind in Suffolk until its demise in the 1990s, said they would also like to introduce other animals such as sheep, goats and pigs at some stage.

As it is, the weekly sales at the site attract buyers from the continent, as well as nearby, said Mr Eagle.

There won’t be a ring, at least initially, so buyers will have to examine the cattle on sale in their pens. Although East Anglia was better known for its arable farming, there were a number of livestock specialists, and a market in Suffolk was needed, he said.

“Obviously there’s Norwich and there’s Colchester but there’s nothing for Suffolk and nothing for the Cambridgeshire area,” said Mr Eagle. “It reduces the mileage and keeps things local. There’s a need for it.”

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