Lamb prices strengthened to start the week giving vendors about £3 a head more in English marts and up to £5.50-£6 a head more at some Scottish saleyards.

The general picture is one of stability, with an average SQQ of 183p/kg throughout the new year so far.

AHDB analysts see supply and demand being “in balance” due to steady prices and have revised the carryover of old seasons lambs down, which is a notable bullish factor.

High Chinese prices could also buoy trade as New Zealand product is diverted to China to tap into a strong market, AHDB analysts added.

See also: Outlook 2018: Strength of sterling key to lamb prices

Beltex cross lambs at an auction mart

James Towler won the championship with a pen of five home-bred 41kg Beltex crosses

A notable lift in Scottish averages was supported by a flying trade at Stirling Caledonian marts, where lambs were up 20p/kg to 193p/kg, and a good trade at Castle Douglas, which reported an SQQ of 201.9p/kg.

A strong trade was seen for old season lambs at Skipton on Monday (5 February), with cull ewes up £7.48 a head due to fewer sold and prices up 7p/kg, with medium lambs (39.1kg-45.5kg) up 6.7p/kg and scarcer heavy lambs nearly 9p/kg dearer.

In all, 2,815 old season lambs made 201.4p/kg as number lifted 38% on the week.

Heavy lambs were also in demand at Skipton and averaged 209.9p/kg with 43kg-47kg lambs at 195-200p/kg. Cull ewes, meanwhile, lifted to £7.48 to £63.88.

The prime lamb pen topped at £126 for Beltexes from Henry Atkinson, Harrogate, and Andrew Phillips, Burton Leonard, who also had lambs to £120 and £117. Mr Atkinson also topped the price per kilo with at 308p/kg with a 37kg Beltex.

(Craven Cattle Marts)