5 December 1997

Dont hang on to your lambs

LAMB producers are urged to continue to draw lambs and meet market specs despite a price drop.

Perthsire-based Signet sheep specialist Peter Cappon warns that there are still a lot of lambs on-farm which are now heavier than market specs and so may struggle to find a buyer.

"Lambs which didnt finish earlier in the season are now fattening quickly. Many store buyers are sitting on lambs which they may have paid £42-47 a head for, but which are currently struggling to fetch £40 a head."

He advises producers to continue to draw lambs despite lower prices. "Theres still a demand for lambs meeting the R3L, 18-19kg deadweight spec, but many are just too heavy. If you have heavy lambs, try to sell some through auction markets.

"Keeping lambs for longer in the hope of a better price may seem tempting, but heavy lambs have a very limited market, with only local butchers and wholesalers prepared to buy them."

Mr Cappon also warns that keeping lambs for longer increases costs. "And when prices rise – which traditionally happens towards Christmas – more lamb comes onto the market, again reducing prices."