7 June 2002

Ewe sales get off to a flying start

By Simon Wragg

BREEDING ewe sales have got of to a strong start as many producers look to boost flock numbers in the wake of the foot-and-mouth fiasco.

Auctioneers had expected to see some of the £1.04bn paid out in compensation for stock lost to the disease to filter through to early breeding sales and, clearly, buyers have not disappointed those expectations.

But demand and values have also been bolstered by the strong market for prime lambs with new season stock regularly pushing 140-150p/kg liveweight at auction leading up to this weeks Golden Jubilee holiday.

Penrith Farmers & Kidds reported a strong turnout of buyers around the prime and breeding rings at the New Fair sale which brought in over 4000 head.

According to Michael Bowe, the ringside was packed. "It was a good trade, especially considering the number of mixed dairy farms up in this area who are not intending to replace ewe flocks."

Best Greyfaced hoggs with single lambs took bids up to £71/life in favour of James Winter of Clickham Farm, Appleby, Cumbria. Overall, the trade would average almost £50/life across the whole entry, says the company.

Ewes with twins were not far behind with bids, again in Clickham Farms favour, running to £46/life. Greyfaced shearlings with twin lambs at foot and Texel X outfits were similar at £37/life and £39, respectively.

Richard Turner & Son at Gisburn has also witnessed a good demand with an entry of 500 Mule ewes and lambs edgeing bidding past £100/outfit at a recent on-farm dispersal. According to the companys John Prickett demand is expected to hold. "If the prime trade for lambs remains robust then the next few weeks will see a good trade.

"Prime lambs at 150p/kg are helping the trade no end. Cull ewes carrying twins have made £160/outfit, but thats not bad money given lambs will hopefully still be making over £40/head when theyre fit."

Further east, values are not as sharp but accounting for regional variations the trade is still sound, reports Frank R Marshalls Glyn Williams. Hogg shearlings with singles were making £70/outfit at Chelford and older sorts still returning between £25-28/life depending on breed.

Although vendors are keen to cash-in on the demand, the 20-day rule – that remains under review by DEFRA – is still having an impact on trade, says Mr Bowe. "The threat of being shut down under the 20-day standstill if prices dip and stock are taken back home is still a concern for some producers.

"However, the paperwork for movement licences seems to be flowing. Vendors are now applying for their own (licences) and weve heard few complaints so far," he adds. &#42

Intense interest… Demand for breeding ewes is strong with prices to match as the first offering at Penrith proved.