20 December 2019

At our meeting on 13 December Council reviewed how we handled the Jedderfield dispersal sale and the lessons we need to learn from it. We undoubtedly made mistakes. We are very sorry about what happened and for the anxiety it has caused. We do need to do things differently in future.

In early September United Auctions were approached to handle the Jedderfield dispersal sale and it was to be under their auspices. They said they would do a special sale, it would be in their catalogue and they visited the fold. They told us that the fold was BVD negative and subject to private health tests, including IBR.

Shortly afterwards, we decided to accept the sale under HCS auspices, but the catalogue production remained with UA. What we also did was accept UA assurances about the health status of the animals to be sold. We did not send fieldsmen or do our own health checks, as we should have done under our rules. This was a clear error and we apologise for it. There were also multiple contacts between HCS Trustees and staff and UA which added to confusion.

We are not attempting to blame UA; they did what they would normally expect to do. Neither is there any blame attached to our Member, Caroline Cuthbertson. Since the sale we have made every effort to contact those buyers and sellers who may have been affected and no health issues at all have been discovered. There is no reason to believe there were any health issues with the fold.

IBR is an airborne disease. So, whilst in no way detracting from our apology, it is not possible at any mart to guarantee that IBR isn't present from other animals. This is one of the reasons for the quarantine and testing advice given for handling animals after a sale.

For the future, Anne-Marie Thomson, Breed Secretary, will take responsibility for any dispersal sales under our auspices, from start to finish, co-ordinating between the member, UA, HCS fieldsmen and staff, ensuring good communication between the parties and a single point of contact for UA.

Highland Cattle Society Council

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