Ted Ogden tells Wendy Short how his love of auctions as a child led to his role now as auctioneer at Craven Cattle Marts.

Many readers will know Ted Ogden as the lively auctioneer at the Skipton-based Craven Cattle Marts. He is also a National Sheep Association (NSA) member and has recently been appointed as chairman of its Northern Region.

Ted’s involvement with the NSA stretches back for more than a decade and he held committee positions including vice-chairman and treasurer, before being appointed as Northern Region chairman. He took over the role from Cumbrian sheep farmer, Viv Lewis.

“I have always enjoyed attending the NSA North Sheep event and was asked to join the regional committee in 2013,” said Ted. “As chairman, I am very enthusiastic about promoting the sheep industry and lobbying decision makers on behalf of our members.

“The committee has a lot of upcoming plans. Some are informative and we have booked several expert speakers to give technical presentations on sheep management, as well as our usual round of farm visits. In addition, we hold social get-togethers, where we can meet up to discuss our favourite subject – sheep.”

The Northern Farmer: Ted Ogden

Meanwhile, his association with livestock auctioneering dates back to his childhood. Brought up on a mixed family farm in Austwick, near Lancaster, Ted spent many a happy hour attending the local auction mart with his grandfather, John, a first-generation farmer, and his father, Bernard.

Ted’s older brother, James, took over the family farm and with an auctioneering career firmly in his sights, Ted studied agricultural marketing at Harper Adams, which now has university status.

“Going to the mart with my family was a highlight of my week and I can still remember the fascination that I experienced as a young boy,” he said. “I enjoyed the hustle and bustle and listening to the auctioneer’s patter, and I paid close attention to every animal that was sold through the ring.

“It was a no-brainer to look for auction mart work for my college sandwich placement and I went to Clitheroe mart, where I started out doing yard work. The firm took me on when I left college and I progressed to booking in livestock and on to auctioneering.”

In autumn 2000, Ted took an auctioneering post at Penrith Farmers’ and Kidd’s, whose livestock sales business was then taken over by Harrison and Hetherington. He moved to live in Appleby, working out of the Kirkby Stephen office and also covering sales at the company’s satellite mart locations at Lazonby and Middleton-in-Teesdale.

In 2008, Ted relocated to North Yorkshire to work for Craven Cattle Marts in Skipton, where he currently holds a position as auctioneer and farmstock sales manager. He was named ‘auctioneer of the year’ in an industry award in 2017.

“We run three weekly sales on average, but since the advent of the mobile phone, it is really a seven day a week role,” he explained. “When I started my career 30 years ago, buyers and sellers would phone the mart office. Nowadays, they can phone and text at any convenient time, so that has been a big change. I am not complaining, because it is all part of the job.

“Social media has become increasingly influential in promoting the sales and marketing the livestock. Nevertheless, auctioneering itself has stayed the same, apart from the introduction of the digital screen that provides live information on individual animals in the ring. The main goal for the auctioneer is to keep the sale moving along.

“For young auctioneers, it is quite a nerve-wracking experience to step into the rostrum for the first time, but confidence grows with plenty of practice. I learned by watching auctioneers in action and I had benefited from listening to the patter every week when I was growing up. I still pick up tips from other auctioneers.”

Ted, who lives with his family in Long Preston, near Skipton, is passionate about the North of England and enjoys playing golf in his spare time. His has maintained his association with rugby, although he no longer participates in the sport.

“I played rugby for many years but nowadays although my brain is willing, my body has said no. My connection with the game has not been lost, however, as I hold the directorship of North Ribblesdale Rugby Club.

“I have lived and worked in the North of England all my life and I have no desire to be anywhere else. Auctioneering has brought me a great deal of job satisfaction and many of the people I have met through my work have become lifelong friends.

“An auction mart provides livestock vendors with an opportunity that is not available on any other selling platform. It gives buyers access to a variety of livestock that they can view ‘in the flesh,’ to find the type of animals that will suit their purpose.

"As we often say in the business, a livestock auction brings a willing seller together with a willing buyer,” said Ted.