15 August 1997

Now store lamb price surge in glut of grass

PLENTIFUL grass supplies have put a keen edge on demand for store lambs. But with slim margins a potential concern, producers are urged to consider other options for using surplus grass.

"The amount of grass on farms in the county is incredible," says Meurig Raymond, Trenewydd, Croesgoch, Wales. "To use it people are prepared to pay up to £5/head more than last year for store lambs."

Mr Raymond is relying on the prime lamb price holding steady, and making a profit from a weight gain of around 5kg/lamb. He admits it is a gamble and a price fall would make the enterprise an expensive exercise.

That sentiment is echoed by Peter Pitchford, partner in charge of Andersons Penicuik office, Midlothian. "Buy store lambs at a level where you can be sure there will be a reasonable return – that will vary between farms, but I would suggest producers would want to gross at least £20/head."

He advises considering the capital investment involved, risk, and management hassle to come up with a base line price.

"Theres more to buying stores than the practicality of having too much grass. Excess grass could be used to flush ewes and keep them out for longer before housing. It could also be let out, as could any turnips crops grown for store keep."