Cattle market makeover in Exmoor

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Cutcome Market is one of thebiggest livestock markets on Exmoor

. Until this year its buildings were

rudimentary, draughty and expensive to heat.

The sale ring was covered with an asbestos sheet that had been in place for half a century. The market day office was a lean-to buidling with no heating for most of the time.

A costly electric bar heater was used on sale days to take the edge off the chill.

As for the cattle pens, the concrete flooring dating back to the 1940s had been added to over the years and had so many joins and cracks in, it couldn't be easily kept clean.

Frequently washing down the animal pens - necessary to ensure hygienic conditions for livestock - made for a huge water bill.

The cattle market's owners knew they had to modernise the facility. A £30,000 grant from the Sustainable Development Fund and approved by Exmoor National Park Authority enabled them to make 'green' improvements while doing so.

The new, greener cattle market opened for business in August 2010

Promoting sustainable heating in Exmoor

Recently Exmoor NPA has launched an initiative aimed at promoting the use of small-scale wood-fuelled heating systems.

A series of events is being organised to

  • show people machinery that can be used to extract and process wood for wood-fuel heating
  • demonstrate how to handle and store wood so that it's properly seasoned

Livestock market showcases green technology

Planning permission for the £1.1m Cutcombe Livestock Market development, which also includes 25 new homes,was granted provided that the new buildings were highly energy efficient and materials for them were sustainably sourced.

Half of the new homes built had to be 'affordable'. A small area of the land is also being development into two small business units.

The sale of land owned by the livestock market - Exmoor Farmers Ltd, a company with about 200 local farmers owning shares - helped finance the development. The project was also boosted by a £30,000 grant from the Sustainable Development Fund.

The technology installed includes:

  1. Timber frames sourced from South West region and Forest Stewardship Council-approved
  2. Rainwater harvesting
  3. Solar panel for energy to power heating in the office accommodation
  4. Air-source heat pumps and a heat recovery ventilation system


Chief auctioneer and manager at Cutcome Livestock Market, Peter Huntley says: "Before the new building we only had a small office and the sale ring was covered with an asbestos sheet roof that was about 50 years old. It was pretty draughty!

"The market day office was in a lean-to building with no heating. We used an electric bar heater on sale days.

"The sheep pen area - the site of the market now - had a proper concrete pad with metal penning. But the cattle area's concrete floor was built in the 1940s or 50s and had lots of joins in it where sections had been added on. The veterinary service wasn't happy we could keep it properly clean.

"There was a cafe in the side of a storage shed but a lot of the facilities were open air and the pens were uncovered.


Building work began in February 2010 and was complete in August 2010. Says Peter: "We have an office in the two-storey timber-framed building and it's extremely well insulated. The market day office and cafe are all in the same building and we can walk from the cafe to the sales ring - it's all under cover.

"We have a solar panel on the roof and two air source heat pumps which heat hot water for the radiators upstairs and under floor heating downstairs. We have an oil-fired boiler as back-up but we've not had to use it since we re-opened.

"One of our big costs is our water bill. We need to operate a lorry wash for all vehicles as well as washing out the pens and livestock areas. We're hoping to save enough rainwater for all our needs but we're still working on it. We need more rainwater storage as we use water constantly, for eight or 10 hours a day during sale days."

The story so far...

Solar panel and two air-source heat pumps

Aim: to reduce the number of tanks of oil used for heating - normally two tanks per winter

Rainwater harvesting

Aim: To reduce water bills by 30% - current use is kup to 40,000 litres per day

All green technologies

Aim: To showcase environmentally-friendly technology to persuade local farmers to adopt similar innovations on their farms