1 August 1997

Demand for store lambs on the up…

NEVER mind the volatile prime lamb prices, the sterling-hit export trade and the prospect of tighter scrapie controls. Farmers have been out shopping for store lambs – and bidding hard.

Prices, contrary to most predictions, have been higher than last year.

At Horsmonden Fair, Kent, 5664 lambs averaged £38.66. That was not only up more than £2 on 12 months ago, it also marked the highest ever seen at the sale, now in its 104th year.

"Its been going long enough to know when a good trade is a good trade – and this certainly was," said auctioneer Alan Mummery of Lambert and Foster.

Buyers, having taken a pounding on beef, are looking to winter a few sheep as an alternative, says Mr Mummery.

But the main reasons for the brisk demand were the abundance of grass keep and the optimism that the fat trade "will come right". Plus, stock is looking good.

Gordon Edwards, who snapped up more than 700 at Ingham Fair to take back to Wales, agrees lambs are heavier and in better condition than last season. "Theyve had grass in front of them since birth."

As such, they probably represent better value, says Mr Edwards.

It was a similar story at last Fridays offering of stores at Ashford market, Kent, where the average was £37.80. And on the same day at Exeter, Devon, the average was £38.63, with a top of £42.

Exeter auctioneer Alan Venner says trade for the smaller, longer-keep sorts is the most buoyant hes seen in 20 years.

At these values, farmers about to sell lambs as finished animals should consider offering them as stores, advises Mr Venner.n

Store lamb sales

Average price

£/head

Ingham37.42

Horsmonden38.66

Ashford37.80

Exeter38.63


Store lamb sales

Average price

£/head

Ingham37.42

Horsmonden38.66

Ashford37.80

Exeter38.63