In Pictures

In pictures: Cows, poultry and pigs at the animal supermarket

A cow stands in an auction ring Image copyright Jonathan Browning

In an area next to the M5 motorway, farmers from across the south-west of England gather at Sedgemoor Livestock Market. Purpose-built in 2008, sheep, dairy and beef cows, poultry and pigs can be found for sale.

Two regular markets are held on Mondays and Saturdays, with other specialist sales held throughout the week. Photographer Jonathan Browning captured the characters who attend these auctions, documenting the everyday details of this Somerset supermarket.

Two muddy legs Image copyright Jonathan Browning
A auctioneer stands with his clipboard Image copyright Jonathan Browning
A group of sheep Image copyright Jonathan Browning

Sedgemoor replaced the smaller Highbridge and Taunton markets, creating a one-stop location for livestock sales.

Farmers come from afar - Cornwall, south Wales and to the north, Gloucester - to trade in economies of scale, filling heavy haulage trucks with hundreds of animals.

Men sit on benches Image copyright Jonathan Browning
Young farmer Image copyright Jonathan Browning
A woman holds a lamb Image copyright Jonathan Browning
A pig walking Image copyright Jonathan Browning

As well as being a place to buy and sell, the market forms the heart of a regional farming community.

Sedgemoor's cafe and market provide a space for people to socialise in what can often be an isolating job.

"I come to the market for the social side of it," one farmer told BBC Radio 4 earlier this year. "For the rest of the week I work alone and I don't see anybody."

Two men eat a fry-up Image copyright Jonathan Browning
The back of an old man's head Image copyright Jonathan Browning
Cakes on a table Image copyright Jonathan Browning

Another farmer said that an advantage of selling animals at the market, opposed to directly to an abattoir, means that if the price is not high enough, he can take them home.

"If you do it once, it helps in future," he said. "You get a little more respect from the buyers."

Despite the popularity of online auctions, it seems that Sedgemoor Livestock Market is still an essential part of farming communities.

A man stands in front of a gate Image copyright Jonathan Browning

All photographs by Jonathan Browning.

The BBC Radio 4 documentary Sedgemoor Sale was broadcast on 30 January 2017 and is still available to listen to here.

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