Livestock co-operative Farm Stock (Scotland), one of the county’s largest, has reported a growth year for livestock throughput, with record numbers of sheep and cattle handled between April 2016 and March 2017.

Sheep numbers rose by 14% from the previous financial year to over 162,000 animals, while the number of cattle marketed climbed 6%. These increases led to a 22% jump in turnover to £15.4 million for the financial year 2016/17.

Although the co-operative is located mainly in the Borders and southern Scotland, it has recently expanded into central Scotland and Cumbria and Northumberland. The Milk Suppliers Association, a 150-strong group of dairy farmers from Ayrshire, Wigtownshire and Dumfriesshire, joined Farm Stock earlier this year to boost returns from cull cows.

Ian Watson, Farm Stock chairman, comments: “It is hugely encouraging that more and more farmers are realising the benefits that co-operative marketing can bring to their sheep and cattle businesses.

“Much of our increase in throughput has come from new farmers coming on board to sell their stock through us. As a co-op, we are not in business to make profit for shareholders, hence our very low commission rates, but first and foremost we aim to maximise returns to livestock producers.”

“Our staff work to ensure the best achievable prices for stock on any given day. I am proud to say that this hard work has meant we achieved £2.30 per lamb more than SQQ price in 2016/17. That is a real boost to farmers’ profitability.”