30 May 1997

Hoggets top £111 for pen at Exeter

By Tim Relf

NO LET-UP is being seen in the strong early-season demand for breeding sheep.

Two more sales of Dorset sheep last week showed prices up on 1996 – and in some cases at recordlevels.

At Exeter, Devon, breeding ewes averaged more than £78, up £11 on last year. Top price ewes were £111 for a pen of purebred hoggets, with ewe lambs making to £74 apiece.

Auctioneer Alan Venner says this years strong interest may be resulting from the smaller numbers on offer.

With Dorset ewe lambs making £70 or £80 apiece in March and Apr 1996, any surplus ones would have been sold, rather than being kept for sale as hoggets this year, says Mr Venner.

Strong cull ewe trade

Similarly, the strong cull ewetrade of recent months has seen high numbers sold. This, saysMr Venner, was reflected in a relatively low showing at the Exeter sale of broken-mouthed ewes. They topped at £101 for "four-tooths".

The event saw a record ram lamb bid of £750.

It was a similar story at Liskeard, Cornwall from where Kivells report a ewe and ewe lamb average of £73. The highest in the last 20 years, according to auctioneer Peter Hooper.

"The harsh reality is that people have far more confidence in the sheep industry than the cattle industry," says Mr Hooper.

Top price at Liskeard went to a pen of 20 poll Dorset ewe hoggets which made £120 a head.