Farm Ireland

Wednesday 16 January 2019

Restricted access to penning areas at marts looks to become the "new norm"

Cattle in pens at a mart. Photo Brian Farrell.
Cattle in pens at a mart. Photo Brian Farrell.
Michael McMorrow from Dowry has special elevation for his wheelchair at Manorhamilton Mart Photo Brian Farrell
Annual Continental Show & Sale of Heifers Elphin Mart. Avoid Eye Contact at The Mart. Photo Brian Farrell
Photo Brian Farrell
Annual Continental Show & Sale of Heifers Elphin Mart. Lot Number 43A. Weight 675K. DOB 9/4/16. Breed CH. Price €1770 Photo Brian Farrell
Ray Doyle
Louise Hogan

Louise Hogan

Restricted access to penning areas at marts looks set to become the "new norm", as marts in the north-west of the country lead the way in bringing in new health and safety measures.

Mart managers pointed out the focus on protocols surrounding animal movements at marts had been on the agenda of sales yards for some time.

Ray Doyle, marts executive with ICOS, who visited a number of marts implementing the new measures including yesterday's sale at Tuam, said it would become the "new norm" and it was "well received" by most farmers.

A number of marts moved to restrict access in their yards and around the penning areas, with viewing times for those purchasing before the sales.

He acknowledged that farmers need time to view the cattle before the sale, pointing out the measures would be reviewed over the coming days to ensure they were "user friendly".

It follows the four Aurivo Marts - Ballymote Livestock Mart, Co Sligo, Mohill Livestock Mart, Co Leitrim, and Ballinrobe and Balla Livestock Marts, Co Mayo - taking the decision to close temporarily for a safety review following a man being airlifted to hospital after an incident involving a bull at Mohill Livestock Mart.

Castlerea Mart Crush Bars. Photo Brian Farrell
Castlerea Mart Crush Bars. Photo Brian Farrell

Aurivo confirmed Balla, Ballinrobe and Ballymote marts will reopen for business this week, while Mohill mart will reopen on Wednesday, April 25.

"New health and safety procedures will be operational. Only marts staff will be allowed in the sales yard and new rules will apply in relation to customer access to various areas of the mart, as the health and safety of our customers, members and employees is of paramount importance," Aurivo stated.

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Mr Doyle said it was about establishing an "appropriate balance" as everyone appreciates the necessity to avoid accidents.

He said they would be seeking a collective response across the marts sector to ensure that no single mart will be disadvantaged. "The cost of insurance for marts has more than doubled in the past 18 months but there hasn't been a particular jump in incidents or claims arising from marts," he said.

Mr Doyle said "health and safety" has to be top of the list and all of the drovers moving cattle in the yards are professionally trained and certified throuigh a Skillnet programme.

Some marts throughout the country have already installed overhead walkways, while others have restricted access to livestock delivery points.

Marion Devane, manager at Tuam, said they were restricting access to the yard and farmers would not be allowed in to the pens to collect their cattle.

She said they were in a lucky position as they had a runway halfway around the yard which provided a view point.

Ms Devane said it was always "tough" to bring in changes but it was the way forward. "Insurances are gone so high now, it is crazy," she said. "Who wants anyone to get hurt in a mart, it is very upsetting."

Joe Wynne, manager at Headford, said they would now permit only staff in the yards and were considering the option of installing walkways.

"The animals will be penned earlier in the day and there will be viewing time after that," he said. "It is a learning process."

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