18 September 1998

Gimmers dip by £30 but rise forecast

By Jeremy Hunt

NORTH of England mule gimmer lambs have shown a drop of around £30 a head on last year at the first of this seasons sales.

While hill farmers try to keep their nerve in the face of falling values, some auctioneers believe demand may improve as the season progresses.

The 15,000 mule gimmer lambs sold at Kirkby Stephen, Cumbria, averaged £43 – down nearly £33 on the year, although 500 more were sold.

"Much of the spending power of traditional Midlands and southern counties buyers has been stifled by their failure to sell last years shearlings," says Kirkby Stephen auctioneer Stuart Bell.

"But having seen the prices at the first of the northern sales, there is hope that these men will reduce the price of their shearlings to effect a sale and could head north again to replace them with lambs at a correspondingly lower value. Good tupping lambs were £50-£60 but there were a lot of running lambs at £30-£37, and thats little money.

"We could see a slight firming of the trade with lambs that were making £35 last week possibly improving by a few £s as we go through the season.

"If shearlings can be sold in the south at £55-£60 and replaced with lambs at £35-£40, we at least have some sort of a trade," he adds.

Telephones have been ringing throughout recent sales as southern bidders keep a close watch on prices. And most auctioneers expect more buyers to come north for forthcoming sales.

"We get the impression that some southern flocks may cull ewes hard this season, despite low cull prices, and rejuvenate their business with young sheep that have not been available at these prices for almost a decade," says Mr Bell.

Auctioneer Raymond Lund reports an average of £42 when 18,800 mule gimmer lambs were sold on Monday at the first of the two-day fixture at Hawes, North Yorks.

"Trade was better than expected. Although some lambs are smaller because of the bad summer, overall quality was as good as we have ever seen here and that makes these lambs look tremendous value. Hill men are finding this a very hard and difficult time but most of our regular south country buyers were here with orders for lambs."

Prices were down more than £29 when 14,000 mule lambs were sold at Skipton. Overall average was £43 with tupping lambs at £54-£56 and running lambs £43-£44. &#42