Two Northern Ireland livestock marts have announced they will shut their gates due to concerns over Covid-19.

Saintfield Livestock Market in Co. Down and Armoy Livestock Mart in Co. Antrim made announcements that all sales would be cancelled with immediate effect this evening (March 16).

In a statement posted online, a spokesman for Saintfield Livestock Mart said sheep and cattle sales were postponed until further notice.

"In the interest of health and safety of our customers and staff relating to the Covid-19 updates this evening, we regret that Saintfield Livestock Mart is to close with immediate effect," it read.

"This is a very worrying and testing time. Our customers', our staff and their families' health are our main priority. We appreciate your understanding."


However, not all have followed suit - at least yet, anyway. Buyers and farmers hoping to offload some stock this week will be relieved to hear the normal sales calendar is still running in Ballymena Livestock Market.

The facility currently runs sales for store cattle on Tuesdays, fat ewes and lambs on Wednesdays, beef, fat cattle and cull cows on Thursdays and weanlings, bulls, calves, dairy and sucklers on Fridays.

"Currently Ballymena Mart is continuing to operate in line with Government recommendations. We understand that the situation is changing day-to-day and we are following Government advice closely and adhering to their wishes," a spokesman said.

Those planning to attend any of the sales should check the Ballymena Livestock Market Facebook page for the latest information.

Swatragh Livestock Market also still plans to go ahead with its next sale. However, staff warned they would continue to monitor the situation.

"The mart is still open at the minute but as the situation in relation to the coronavirus evolves we could take the decision to close," a spokesman said.

"Currently, we are awaiting guidance from the authorities in relation to this. The safety of our staff and customers are our priority."

The next sales scheduled at Swatragh are as follows:

  • March 21: Saturday Sheep Sale - starts at 10:30am;
  • March 23: Monday Cattle sale - starts at 11:30am.

Customers should check the Swatragh Livestock Market Facebook page for the latest information in relation to these sales.

Some marts are still to decide

A spokesman for Newtownstewart Livestock Sales said a decision had not yet been made on whether the Friday sheep sale and Saturday cattle sale would proceed as planned.

An update is expected to be made later in the week on the firm's Facebook page.

A decision on Clogher Valley Livestock Producers is expected on Tuesday (March 17).

AgriLand was unable to make contact with anyone from Dungannon Market.

Editor's notePlease note this story reflects the situation at the time of publication on March 16. As things are continually changing, the guidelines above should be checked directly with the market before departing for a sale.