By FWi staff

THERE seems little hope for sheep farmers of an early recovery in prices, as finished lamb values fell again this week.

“Prices are dropping every week,” bemoaned auctioneer Trevor Simpson of Hexham market. At Hexham market, prices on Tuesday dropped a further 1p on last week, averaging at 62.4p/kg.

“Farmers cant go on much longer. Lambs are being fed, although producers arent getting money back for this.” Many lambs have been presented under-finished this season, noted Mr Simpson.

Demand is good however, he said: “We have one of the biggest rings of buyers in the country. But we keep thinking things cant get any worse and they do.”

Numbers of lambs being presented at the market are very high for the time of year, with 6500 at Hexham market on Tuesday. “If this keeps happening, I cant see prices rising,” said Mr Simpson.

Prices have averaged another fall of 1.66p to 62.40p/kg at markets across the UK this week. This followed a fall of 3.30p last week to about 63.94p/kg.

Part of the problem is the high volume on the market at the current time, said economist Jane Connor of the Meat and Livestock Commission.

She echoed Mr Simpson saying that a large number of lambs have been presented under-finished. “The wet weather hasnt helped either, and overall quality is down.”

However, trade at Stamford market was quite good on Monday, said Scott Murray of auctioneer Messrs Murray. Prices there reached as high as 67p/kg while at the nearby Melton Mowbray market, lamb values ranged between 61-62p/kg.

“Monday seems to be a good day,” said Mr Murray. He has noted that Monday markets go well while, as the week develops, prices start to fall.

However, lamb marketings at Stamford have been way down for the time of year, said Mr Murray. “Only 200 lambs were presented this week, down by more than a half on 1997.”

“Numbers should increase soon as producers clear the lambs off grass.”