Auction photo

The new “Ayr Mart” is in fact now well into its 3rd decade of operation. Being situated on the A70 Ayr – Cumnock road just half a mile from the A77 Stranraer-Glasgow trunk route, the site is easy to find and provides copious carparking for commercial and private vehicles alike.

Activity revolves around the mart concourse, off which we have two auction rings. Modern lighting and heating enhance the comfort of customers and spectators alike.

Since 1993 a “Village” of ancillary trades has formed around the mart. Everything from clothing, footwear, feeding and animal medicines, through to dairy engineers, livestock trailers and insurance services are available on site.

This fine location on the Coast just overlooking Ayr and The Firth of Clyde is drawing stock not only from all over Ayrshire, but also from Renfrewshire, Lanarkshire, Wigtownshire, Kirkcudbrightshire, Arran and the Western Isles.

Weekly sales commence in Ayr every Monday with PRIME SHEEP at 10.30am.

Old auction building

"Selling Livestock by Auction as a method has defied improvement so far in practice or theory. It is the most efficient method of distributing and directing, to where each is wanted, the infinite varieties and qualities which present production methods turn out"

And so it was in 1889, the original James Craig started selling livestock by auction within the county town of Ayr. He quickly grew the company, expanding geographically, and bought Newton Stewart market serving Wigtownshire in 1903, thereby creating the basis of the current business which is still thriving a century later.

The main centre in Ayr, which used to be located adjacent to Ayr Railway Station, was modified and redeveloped continuously to service the changing livestock marketing trends over its ninety year history. Come 1993, a deal was struck with developers and Ayr Town Council to relocate the market to its present site, at Whitefordhill, a farm already under ownership of the Craigs.

Incorporating the latest thinking in livestock handling and biosecurity methods, the company was well established to weather the storms created, firstly by BSE, and not long after, the debacle of Foot and Mouth. Many faltered, and markets around the country have closed, but the Directors, believing earnestly in the concept of the auction system, embarked on a project to expand the business yet again. Negotiations started with their close neighbours, the Wilson family, who operated sites in Kilmarnock and Paisley. Jointly the decision was reached to merge the two auction houses with Ayr as the flagship centre, and Newton Stewart remaining as its southern based satellite. Through this initiative it can be truly said the new business of Craig • Wilson Ltd services clients from the Solway to the Clyde ... a considerable proportion of South West Scotland.

Auctions at Ayr, page 1

Weekly sales commence in Ayr every Monday with PRIME SHEEP at 10.30am.

Sales are attended by local wholesalers and representatives of all the major slaughtering facilities with a large percentage of stock heading to Wales and the South of England. Regular consignments are also exported to Ireland. Lairage facilities are on offer, both housed and paddock, for the regular consignments from the Western Isles.

Lambs are presented in the 30-55kg weight range weekly, with the majority of these until Christmas being Texel and Suffolk bred, and then from January to April good strong Blackface Hoggets come forward in large numbers.

Annual feature sales are our Show and Sale of Texel Prime Lambs in August, and our keenly supported Christmas Show. Our butcher clients are highly supportive and many of our PRIZE TICKETS grace the Christmas windows of local buthchers.

Tuesday is a “mercat day” in Ayr with PRIME CATTLE sales commencing at 11am. Numbers are smaller now than those seen before the foot and mouth outbreak. This is interestingly a National trend with Marts from the North of Scotland to the South Coast of England experiencing similar declines in throughput. It is our view that selling Prime Cattle by Auction is still most viable and we will always foster the principal.

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Ayr auction 1

In Craig Wilson’s first year of operation 8388 Prime Cattle were marketed and Ayr remains one of the largest prime cattle centres in Scotland. An enlarged butcher clientel resulting from the formation of our new company certainly enhances returns to sellers. As with all classes of stock sold at Auction, the Prime Cattle operation has great transparency. The weighing of the cattle, the handling of the animals and even the bidding process is there to be seen. In the Abattoir all moves are behind closed doors especially so nowadays after so many health scares.

As with the finished sheep, the year culminates in our Christmas Show, which annually produces a spectacular array of butchers cattle and is keenly supported by finishers, butchers, wholesalers and all interested in livestock production in Southern Scotland.

Continuing the bovine theme, every week in a separate auction ring we commence proceedings, with a sale of CALVES, DAIRY CATTLE and STIRKS. Special sales of FRIESIAN and AYRSHIRE Dairy Cattle feature on a regular basis throughout the year.

On the first Tuesday of every month, after the normal weekly sale we have a sale of BEEF BREEDING Cattle, commencing with cows and heifers with calves, in-calf cows and heifers, bulling heifers and bulls. These sales have created tremendous interest over the past year, and visitors are advised to arrive early to secure a good vantage point.

Rounding up our regular market day activity we collect large numbers of OTMS cattle in Ayr, processing liveweight or deadweight, as customers demand. A dedicated team check all the animals to ensure the paperwork collates with the animals ear tags. If a tag is found to be missing or damaged, we offer a 24 hour replacement service.

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Auction 2

Another major contribution to the activity in Ayr, is the fortnightly and seasonal sales of STORE CATTLE, STORE and BREEDING SHEEP.
STORE CATTLE sales, held fortnightly on a Thursday, continue to expand in numbers (nearly 16,000 last year) and interest generated. With such a wide catchment area to the south, north and east of the site, a wide selection of types are regularly on offer to buyers, who will travel from as far as Aberdeen and the Midlands, to satisfy their requirements. All cattle consigned can be drawn into lots by our staff or to individuals instructions. Cattle movements are automatically recorded for both vendors and purchasers via our computerised auction sale system, and we are happy to arrange haulage to all parts of the country.

STORE and BREEDING sheep sales, are of course seasonal and our store lambs sales are weekly every Thursday from the third week in August through to November, then fortnightly after that. The season begins with Mule Female Breeding Sheep in August followed by Blackface Ewe Lamb sales in September, and our annual Tup Fair on the second Saturday in September.

Our site in Newton Stewart is the last remaining Mart in Wigtownshire. Located only 200 yards from the Carlisle-Stranraer Eurolink, it is very easy to find, but like many old marts it nestles within the town centre, on Station Road in fact. In the past much of the livestock sold here arrived by rail, but although Newton Stewart lost its rail link some time ago, the Mart, with great local support, continues to thrive.

The sale ring, a traditional brick built octagonal building with a good old slated roof and prominent bell tower is considered by some to be a work of art, and is indeed a listed building. Clad internally in solid timber the natural acoustics are superb and most modern buildings struggle to create the character of building that this mart embodies. Pennage in the mart is almost now unique in that it is mostly constructed of wood, a material which is most sympathetic to the wellbeing of livestock.

PRIME and CAST SHEEP are offered in Newton Stewart every Wednesday of the year. As the major centre in this area numbers sold reached nearly 70,000 head last year. There are regular sales of STORE and BREEDING CATTLE and SHEEP as well, with Friday being the day when these are presented.

The trading year in Newton Stewart culminates in October with the world famous Blackface Ram Sales in the first week of the month with the Suckled Calf Sales the following week when up to 6000 mostly continental calves are offered over two days.

Sheeps

Our two centres in Ayr and Newton Stewart lie in “one of the last great livestock gardens” left in Scotland. Buyers from the North of Scotland to the Midlands of England confidently attend these centres in the safe knowledge that stock purchased from those areas will thrive wherever they are removed to.
The Directors and staff of Craig • Wilson Ltd hope that you have found this brief introduction informative and that we can welcome you to either of our Marts in the near future.