19 January 1996

Firm outlook for cull ewes

CULL ewe prices have eased, averaging £29 in the week ending Jan 10.

But auctioneers are suggesting this is only a temporary dip, and the outlook is one of firmer prices.

With the sheep annual premium retention period starting on Feb 4, supplies will be tight, says auctioneer Mark Cleverdon at Ashford, Kent.

And the religious festival of Ramadan will further stimulate demand, he says. "Heavy hoggets could also get dearer."

Of a similar opinion is auctioneer Michael Powell at Taunton, Somerset. The 1000 culls he sold last Saturday averaged £31. Trade is similar to this time last year, he points out.

There may be a flush in numbers in the next couple of weeks, as sheep-keep agreements come to an end. "But January is usually a month of reasonably firm prices. And I havent, therefore, been surprised to see large entries."

Marketings of cast tups are also increasing in some marts. Michael Parry who sells stock at Gaerwen, Gwynedd, says that the present "handful" of tups on offer each week could top the 100-mark by the end of February. Prices at Gaerwen are currently between £25 and £47. &#42