By Tim Relf
FARMERS have been encouraged by recent buoyancy in spring lamb prices although Mondays average at livestock marts remained steady on the week at 130p/kg liveweight.
Values are a long way behind last year and a million miles away from two years ago, when demand was riding high on the back of the BSE-related backlash against beef.
Lake District farmer John Geldard puts the drop on 1997 and 1996 at about £20 and £40 a head respectively. There has, however, been a recent upturn, says Mr Geldard, with some early lambs last week making 149p/kg.
Auctioneers, however, remain split as to where values will go next. “Its all looking a lot brighter – and not all the big buyers are on lamb yet,” says Gavin Loynes at Gloucester.
But Maurice Wall, auctioneer at Highbridge, Somerset, is less bullish. Stock is finishing pretty well, despite the recent adverse weather – so supplies will soon build. “I dont see the trade going up from where it is.”
The hogget trade, meanwhile, remains buoyant, with this weeks average of 106p/kg at Highbridge only 24p/kg behind the lambs.