As part of this week’s Mart Focus, That’s Farming speaks to Jerh O’Sullivan, about his venture into property and livestock auctioneering.
Jerh O’Sullivan from Coachford, County Cork farms part-time on the family farm, with his wife, Noreen, and five kids, running a calf to-beef-system. He also officiates as a livestock auctioneer on a full-time basis with Cork Co-operative Marts.
He is based in the Macroom branch, although he sells across all other centres including Skibbereen, Bandon, Corrin, Dungarvan and Cahir.
“We mainly sell livestock; we have some machinery sales from time to time. I would sell whatever is presents on the day, whether it be cattle sheep or machinery.” Jerh O’Sullivan told That’s Farming.
“I was working on a small dairy at home and worked with farm relief and local builders. From that, I drifted to the local mart doing a bit of droving about twenty-two years ago.”
Within a few years of that, he started to do some office and clerical work in Macroom Bandon and Skibbereen. He is working as a livestock auctioneer with Cork Marts for approximately seventeen years now.
“The most important thing in the marts is that we appreciate that farmers are very busy, especially the area in Cork that I am based in. We are really in the heart of ‘dairy country’, and we understand that the herds are big, and the farmers’ time can be very limited. “
“There is a lot of convenience buying where agents are going into the yard buying cattle and calves off farmers. That is a fine service as well, but the market price will always be determined somewhere. The only place you can determine the market price is in your local livestock mart. People must support local marts for that reason.”
Similar to others, Jerh believes livestock auctioneering has changed since the Covid-19 pandemic struck.
He enjoyed seeing galleries full of people, but now, under Level 5 restrictions, sales ring is a very different sight, with an auctioneer, clerk and drover.
“I was intersegmental in west Cork for getting one of the online platforms set up for the west Cork divisions, MartEye. The system was set up in Macroom initially and then installed it in Bandon and Skibbereen later.”
“Our other three marts, Corrin, Dungarvan and Cahir, utilise the Livestock Live system. It is great that we have two platforms running in our six sale centres.”
“Once ringside sales returned, there was a change when we opened doors. It just meant we had a dual system, online bidding and ringside bidding.”
“I believe the dual system is brilliant because you have buyers who can really utilise their time and maybe buy out of two marts at the same time. They do not have to travel to the mart to buy animals, but they are still getting top-quality stock.”
The Cork native was involved in livestock auctioneering for 15-years before he “drifted” into the property field.
He recently qualified as an estate agent by completing an estate agency course at Cork College of Commerce. This paved the way for his involvement in CCM Property Network, which has offices in Midleton Mitchelstown, Bandon and Macroom.
“We also do a bit of work from the marts as well. It is great in the sense we are selling their stock when maybe they are coming nearer to retirement and have been trying to lease out their farm for several years.”
“At the moment, our heavy workload is coming from land lettings and land sales. It ironic my first sale since I qualified was a house, and hopefully, that might continue.”
“We are mostly doing land sales and land letting. My colleague, Macroom mart manager, John O’Mahoney, has a property license, so we have been doing land letting from the office in Macroom for 5/6 years.”
“So, between the two of us, we got the property office running from out of our local mart here. I went back to get my qualification, so I can run the property office myself and continue on with the livestock auctioneering in all the branches too.”
Advice for aspiring auctioneers
Jerh recently spoke to first-year college students in Galway, Dublin and Cork via Zoom. He provided them with some of his own knowledge and advice that he also shared with That’s Farming.
The most important thing is to know your market and your clients and be honest with people, he stressed. “There is no point trying to sell somebody a field full of rushes and tell them it is Golden Vale country. You have to understand the market and prospective buyers.”
“Whether you are valuing forestry, tillage land, or top-class dairy or beef type-land, you have to know your local market and the type of land or property you are selling.”
“You have to inform yourself; forestry would not have been my strong point, so I researched and conversed with those buying and selling forestry to bring myself up to speed,” Jerh O’Sullivan concluded, as he encouraged farmers to use Cork Marts and CCM Property when they need to sell or lease going forward.