Business Farming

Thursday 29 September 2016

Cork herd auctioned amid heavy security

Total clearance of 503 head at Sheriff's auction of Kingstons' pedigree herd

Published 26/04/2016 | 02:30

Peter Kingston claimed yesterday's second sale of the Cradenhill herd added insult to injury. Photo: Daragh McSweeney/Provision
Peter Kingston claimed yesterday's second sale of the Cradenhill herd added insult to injury. Photo: Daragh McSweeney/Provision

The second dispersal sale of the Cradenhill dairy herd proved to be a sell-out in Co Cork yesterday.

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It followed the failed attempt by the Kingston family to hold on to 500 head of their herd during the first auction held two weeks ago.

Observers believe that the embattled family had more proxy bidders actively bidding yesterday.

Close to 50 registered bidders that had lodged €5,000 to an account prior to the sale were permitted entry to the camera-free zone where the auction was held.

The sale represented the second attempt by the Cork County Sheriff to recoup some of the €2.5m owed by the Kingston's to their main creditor, the ACC. Once again, there was extremely heavy security on the farm, with uniformed gardai and private security personnel present.

Neither George Kingston nor his son Peter were permitted to bid on the animals following the failed attempt by George to buy back half of the lots at the last auction.

Peter Kingston claimed that his father had cashed in his pension to pay for the animals, but that the funds did not clear in time to comply with the first sale's conditions.

The pair had built up a world-class pedigree herd of Holsteins on the 175ac farm near Kinsale. In 2006, Peter embarked on a plan to assemble a 1,000 cow herd.

Despite the smaller attendance, auctioneer Denis Barrett said it was a "great sale", with every one of the 503 lots sold under the hammer. Prices were up on average, ranging from €350 for newborn calves to €3,300 for cows.

Many of the bidders were from the UK, but Mr Barrett estimated that less than a third of the animals are destined for export.

"There was a very different atmosphere in there without the Kingstons present. There was actually a round of applause for the herd manager at the end of the sale," said Mr Barrett.

Peter Kingston told reporters yesterday of the turmoil that his family was experiencing.

"It's absolutely heart-breaking to go through this a second time, to see your life's work go up in smoke," he said.

He added that the sale was adding "insult to injury" and that it was particularly upsetting for the Kingston family that his father had been prevented from bidding on a herd that he had so painstakingly built up over the years.

However, the farm had fallen into serious disrepair by the time the Sheriff seized it last December. Court documents show that vets and staff hired to get the animals ready for sale were 'shocked' by the conditions.

Three animals were put down on the farm in the last two weeks following veterinary recommendations. Up to €800,000 is also believed to be owed to local land owners and suppliers to the Cradenhill herd.

The holding is located in a highly sought after farming area, and is reported to be on the market for in the region of €2.5m.

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