By FW reporters

CULL ewes are making just £25 at market, down about £10 on a year ago, because prices are being depressed by higher-than-expected entries.

At Longtown, Cumbria, light ewes averaged only £24 last Thursday. Heavy ewes were worth slightly more at £32.

“The only thing that can kill the ewe trade is the warmer weather – and there has been none of that,” said auctioneer Haig Murray.

At Taunton last Saturday, the average ewe price was £27.

“We are struggling to get over £40,” admitted auctioneer Michael Powell.

One of the main reasons for the year-on-year drop in trade is that grass supplies are less abundant. “People had more grass than they knew what to do with last year,” said Mr Powell.

If prices remain low, farmers will be tempted to hang on to ewes for longer, said Hereford auctioneer Richard Hyde. “People will go back to the more traditional time of drafting out in the autumn,” he said.