28 March 1997

Best Easter lambs going for 200p/kg

By Tim Relf

EASTER lamb shows are well under way, showing the best to be worth over 200p/kg.

And in some areas, a marked premium is being paid for lighter animals.

At Worcester, auctioneer Clive Roads said the handy-weights were making up to 20p/kg more than the heavier ones at last weeks spring show. Overall average was 186p/kg, with a top price of 215p/kg.

With Easter early, Worcesters entries were typically in the 32kg to 37kg range. By Monday (Mar 24) at nearby Ludlow, typical weight had risen to between 33kg and 40kg. Best price at Ludlow was 206p/kg.

John Kearns of West Country abattoir Lloyd Maunder says that, despite the early start to the season, a lot of lambs have been killed at between 18kg and 19kg deadweight.

"But the countries dominating demand — such as France, Spain, Belgium and Germany – see the ideal weight as between 15kg and 17kg."

But dont sell them too light, cautions auctioneer David Benson at Maidstone, Kent.

Among Mondays entry of lambs at Maidstone – the seasons first – the lightest was 22kg. "Too light," says Mr Benson. "But anything around the 30kg-mark was well over 200p/kg."

And everywhere, numbers are building up. At Guildford, Surrey, auctioneer Ashley Ward describes last weeks Easter show as the "launch pad" for the new season.

There, values reached 225p/kg, with the championship awarded to a Suffolk cross lamb, which grossed £80.

But values are down on 1996, says Mr Ward, when the champion made £125 and prices were well over the 200p/kg-mark.

"Last year, a lot of lambs were making over 400p/kg deadweight. I doubt if therell be too many at that money this time."

Prices are, however, fairly even "across-the-board" between 32kg and 39kg, says Mr Ward.

But a price premium is evident for the outdoor lambs which, with their distinctive flavour and taste, can make £3 or £4 a head more than those finished intensively, he reckons.