22 November 1996

Lamb market back to normal

LAMB prices are settling back down after unexpectedly shooting up a fortnight ago. This week started with a further fall in the average to 131.55p/kg on Monday.

Auctioneers are unanimous in saying the price rise was too much too quickly, that last weeks adjustment was inevitable, and that prospects for the future remain good.

A major factor in the recent drop was the increase in lambs on offer because of the very good prices. But now numbers appear to be back to normal, sugges-ting the market adjust-ment has now been made.

At Lanark in Scotland on Monday, the overall average was down 8p on seven days before at 129p/kg. But that was still 22p/kg better than 12-months earlier, and nice Texel lambs of export weight were making 143p-144p/kg.

Cockermouth, Cumbria averaged 133p for a substantially lower entry than at the previous sale. "Lightweight lambs were a shade better, partly because some were being bought by farmers for further feeding," says market manager Adam Day.

Slightly higher at 136p/kg was Ludlow, Shropshire. With stores so scarce that £50-plus is still common, auctioneer Clive Roads wonders whether they will be able to find decent numbers of tegs in February and March.

And at Gloucester, Gavin Loynes says: "Exporters both live and dead are making the trade and with basically a lack of numbers I think prices will stay strong to Christmas at least, though I suspect they may ease a bit after that for a while."

Sally Doyle of MLC, meanwhile, suggests, at 3.48m, there may be slightly more hoggs available for slaughter in the first quarter of 1997 than there were last year (3.36m).

But last weeks rise in marketings may affect that prediction – providing most of them were killed rather than bought to go back on farms, she says.

And with killing ewes continuing to be sold in record numbers at 2.3 -2.4m/year, compared with the traditional replacement rate of about 1.5m a year, more ewe lambs are likely to be retained for breeding. This will be another factor limiting the number of slaughter hoggs available in the new year, she says.

John Burns

LAMB prices are settling back down after unexpectedly shooting up a fortnight ago. This week started with a further fall in the average to 131.55p/kg on Monday.

Auctioneers are unanimous in saying the price rise was too much too quickly, that last weeks adjustment was inevitable, and that prospects for the future remain good.

A major factor in the recent drop was the increase in lambs on offer because of the very good prices. But now numbers appear to be back to normal, sugges-ting the market adjust-ment has now been made.

At Lanark in Scotland on Monday, the overall average was down 8p on seven days before at 129p/kg. But that was still 22p/kg better than 12-months earlier, and nice Texel lambs of export weight were making 143p-144p/kg.

Cockermouth, Cumbria averaged 133p for a substantially lower entry than at the previous sale. "Lightweight lambs were a shade better, partly because some were being bought by farmers for further feeding," says market manager Adam Day.

Slightly higher at 136p/kg was Ludlow, Shropshire. With stores so scarce that £50-plus is still common, auctioneer Clive Roads wonders whether they will be able to find decent numbers of tegs in February and March.

And at Gloucester, Gavin Loynes says: "Exporters both live and dead are making the trade and with basically a lack of numbers I think prices will stay strong to Christmas at least, though I suspect they may ease a bit after that for a while."

Sally Doyle of MLC, meanwhile, suggests, at 3.48m, there may be slightly more hoggs available for slaughter in the first quarter of 1997 than there were last year (3.36m).

But last weeks rise in marketings may affect that prediction – providing most of them were killed rather than bought to go back on farms, she says.

And with killing ewes continuing to be sold in record numbers at 2.3 -2.4m/year, compared with the traditional replacement rate of about 1.5m a year, more ewe lambs are likely to be retained for breeding. This will be another factor limiting the number of slaughter hoggs available in the new year, she says.

John Burns