By FWi staff

LAMB market averages crossed the £1/kg barrier and continue to gain strength as numbers tighten.

Some auctioneers had expected the rise to draw more hoggs from those currently being finished off roots and stubbles, but in many areas that has not been seen.

MAFF statistics indicate about 22,000 lambs fewer are being sold each week compared with last year.

On Monday, markets recorded a SQQ of 102p/kg, well ahead of 74p/kg at the same point last year.

Cull ewe prices have also improved, with bigger sorts averaging £29.15 a head; lighter entries are back at £16.75 each.

Confidence in the prime market has helped support a flourishing trade for ewe and lamb couples, with better-bred pairs making up to £30 a life, but smaller hill breeds down to about £15 a life.

However, the first entries of new-season lambs in the south-west averaged £1.10/kg; the gap between hoggs hardly justifying the extra effort of lambing flocks early, say auctioneers.

This should improve as numbers build.