Prime lambs at market© Tim Scrivener

Healthy fat lamb prices have kept the store trade buoyant so far this year, despite good numbers arriving at marts.

The UK new season store average was £57.30 a head in the week ending 6 September, according to AHDB. That was up more than £8.50 on the year.

Supply has hardly been tight, with numbers sold running 11% higher than in 2015, even though the lamb crop was similar.

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Matthew Probert, from Monmouthshire Livestock Auctioneers, said numbers at his fortnightly store sale had been pleasing over the past eight weeks.

On Monday (12 September) he sold almost 500 stores, with the best short-keep lambs hitting £74 a head and most averaging about the mid to late 50s.

“A lot of farmers are looking at buying some replacement lambs, because the season has been so good for selling [fat] they have sold all theirs already,” Mr Probert said.

The finished trade opened up a gap with the previous year’s prices after the Brexit vote and has stayed wide since.

The British new season standard quality quotation was 184.01p/kg in the week to 10 September – 35p/kg up on 2015.

Liveweight throughputs have been above or close to the same week last year all season.

Simon Draper, auctioneer at Thame Livestock Mart, said proper keep lambs were making £55-£56 a head.

This was £5-£6 dearer than twelve months before, even though the prime trade was £15 higher, he said.

“One would have thought the stores would have been [worth] more than they are,” Mr Draper said.

“What we are predicting is they will get a little bit stronger now.

“We have gone through this dry period and the grass is just starting to come back.”

AHDB’s report suggested that demand for stores was better, which could indicate some belief that the market would stay strong in the short term.

“Higher numbers of stores being sold now could lead to an increase in production in the coming months,” the levy board said.

“However, store sales in the remainder of the season will also influence supplies going forward.”