By Jeremy Hunt

BAD weather and doubts over the price of new-season lamb was creating caution among buyers at the seasons first sales of ewes with lambs at foot early this week.

Although some markets are reporting ewes and twins down as much as £20 an outfit on last year, other are reporting a slightly better trade. Auctioneer Michael Evans at Hereford says some have seen prices up by about £5.

Full and broken-mouth lowland ewes suckling twins have been selling at £50-£68 an outfit at Hereford. Similar age ewes with singles range from £30-£54. “Thats fair money for the best on offer,” reckons Mr Evans who has been selling 200-250 ewes with lambs in recent weeks.

Alan Venner of Exeter describes demand as “a little easier”, with young two-tooth outfits making £25-£35/life.

“We are getting around 200-300 ewes each week and demand is reasonable. There is certainly a knock-on effect on ewe and lamb trade when confidence is boosted by a good trade for suck lambs at our Monday market,” said Mr Venner.

Torrential rain in the north-west this week dampened enthusiasm at many sales, especially where ewes and lambs are being brought to market from inside systems before being turned out to grass.

But at Lancaster, auctioneer John Hughes said trade was holding at around £72-£78 for correct Mule ewes with twins. Single outfits were making £36-£40.

“Its been terribly wet this week but theres still plenty of demand from regular buyers and those wanting to keep numbers up for the retention period,” said Mr Hughes.