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Chris Norton, veteran auctioneer, reflects on decades in the dairy industry

Source: The DairyNews
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Mr. Norton, alongside his founding partner Tom Brooksbank, will maintain involvement in the business as he steps back. Reflecting on his journey, he shares, "I've had a longstanding connection with the Cowell family and wanted to mark this occasion in Lancashire, where our journey began, and where we've always cherished a great rapport with farmers." Raised in a household with a dairy farm, his fascination with pedigrees emerged early on. "At home, we had a small herd of Shorthorns before transitioning to Friesians. I developed a genuine interest in pedigrees, whether it be cows, horses, or humans."
Chris Norton, veteran auctioneer, reflects on decades in the dairy industry

After leaving Cirencester Agricultural College, Mr. Norton found his calling in dairy auctioneering. "Joining Hobsons, the principal dairy auctioneers of the time, felt like a natural career choice," he recalls. Despite expectations of a lengthy wait, he swiftly found himself auctioning bulling heifers merely six months later in April 1974, marking the beginning of his auctioneering journey.

Reflecting on his tenure at Hobsons, Mr. Norton recalls two standout sales: the dispersal of the Grove herd for Dyfrig Williams in 1983 and the Sharcombe herd for Sir Keith and Lady Showering in 1981. In 1984, alongside Tom Brooksbank, he embarked on a new venture, founding Norton and Brooksbank. Their inaugural sale in Lancaster marked the beginning of a successful chapter, characterized by numerous major dispersal sales and private transactions, including the notable Ullswater herd sale in 1989.

Throughout his career, Mr. Norton has witnessed significant transformations in the dairy industry. "When we began, a herd of 200 cows was considered sizable, but now 400-500 is the norm," he observes. Embracing technological advancements, he notes the impact of computerization and, more recently, platforms like MartEye, revolutionizing cattle sales.

Despite prevailing challenges, Mr. Norton remains optimistic about the future of dairy farming and the auction system. "Consumers will always demand milk, but I hope for greater stability for farmers," he asserts. Recognizing the auction system's enduring relevance, he concludes, "It remains the optimal avenue to showcase top-quality cows, particularly pedigrees."

As Mr. Norton prepares to step back, he reflects fondly on his remarkable career, enriched by enduring friendships forged along the way.

Photo by farmersguardian.com