By FWi staff

NEW-SEASON lamb prices have continued to strengthen this week, with old-season hoggets remaining stable as their numbers almost dry up.

At GB markets yesterday (Tuesday) new season lambs averaged 119.62p/kg with old season lambs remaining stable at 92.28p/kg.

Auctioneer Stephen Burley reported a good trade at York market this week, with values remaining constant. Over 750 new-season lambs were sold and demand was strong.

The old-season hog market has almost finished now, and the trade has switched over, said Mr Burley.

To avoid any price disappointment, Mr Burley advises farmers not to hold on to their lambs this year.

“There will be a lot of lambs coming forward, so farmers should sell before, when lambs are fit,” he added.

At Hereford market, prices of new-season lambs have eased slightly, noted auctioneer Michael Evans.

“But this is just the transition period between the supermarkets changing to lamb from hoggets,” he said.

New-season lambs have really started to enter the market now, with over 2000 sold at Hereford on Monday.

Despite a shortage in hogget numbers, Mr Evans said that there is still significant demand.

Prices are slightly up nationwide on last year, said Meat and Livestock Commission economist Jane Connor.

But farmers cant expect much better than they have it now, because the industry is still operating in a market with no skin trade, said Ms Connor – “and this takes some of the value out.”

Ms Connor said that producers can expect prices to be marginally lower than they were last year until August, when they should balance out.

With more ewes retained on-farm last year, an increase of 4% in the lamb crop is expected in 1999-2000.

Producers can expect to see an increase of 1-2p/kg on last autumn, said Ms Connor – “but thats all.”