5 April 1996

Easter lambs top last year

WITH Easter lamb shows well underway, auctioneer are reporting prices above last years levels. Hogget prices, too, remain above 1995.

But volatility has been seen in both sectors as the knock-on effects of the BSE issue are felt. Prices temporarily fell in the middle of last week, for example, as resistance was seen overseas to buying any British meat.

French, Italian and German outlets were cancelling orders, says Brian Pile at Banbury, Oxon. But there, as elsewhere, tight supplies are underpinning the new-season lamb trade.

"The lamb crop is not vast and the weather has not helped them," says Mr Pile.

Last Thursday saw an entry of 410 new-season lambs at Banbury, the highest this year. Taking the show championship was a pair of 36kg Suffolk cross lambs, which made £79 apiece (£2.19/kg).

The ideal weight is between 35kg and 40kg, he says. "Anything under that may not make enough a head. And once it is over 40kg a lamb begins to lose markets."

Auctioneer Nigel Young at Uttoxeter, Staffs, agrees. "Below 30kg and the buyers dont want to know." But some lambs have been marketed a little too early, he says.