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,” Mr Bell added.

  farmer washing sheep
Making a splash: Colin Dent gets his Mule gimmer lambs in tip-top condition for last weeks big auction at Kirkby Stephen, Cumbria. The family, who collected third prize this time, have won the show prize for large breeders a record nine times at the event. Their 300-head consignment to the mart averaged £55, down £35 on the year.
Dents gimmers  

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.