Exeter market auctioneer Alan Venner sells prime lambs during the mart’s Christmas primestock show and sale this week, with new-crop lamb couples going under the hammer on the same day.

Trade for couples was better than last year, reflecting a level of confidence in next year’s Easter prime lamb values. Last week’s sale of almost 250 couples saw twins level at 110-120 and peak at 121, with singles reaching 83 and averaging 70-80. “That’s well up on last year,” said Mr Venner.

He had expected prices to be about 14.50 a head down, reflecting the loss of sheep annual premium. “But people want to buy stock and there’s a bit of a shortage.”