30 August 2002

Sales start for breeding ewes

BREEDING ewe sales in the north of England begun in earnest last week with the first gimmer lambs going under the hammer at Hexham Market, Northumberland, and shearling Mules at Skipton Market, North Yorks, for two years.

Trade lived up to its early billing following this seasons first shearling ewe sale in the south and a booming fat lamb trade.

Numbers were down at Hexham as a consequence of last years foot-and-mouth outbreak, where auctioneer Trevor Simpson sold 1950 gimmer lambs.

"Some vendors had lambs taken out with F&M and some thought they werent quite strong enough and have held them back for the next ewe lamb sale on Sept 5, when 6000 to 7000 will pass through the ring."

Trade was better than expected levelling at £68.83, more than double the £30.13 achieved two years ago.

"Im not sure that trade will remain at this level throughout, but we expect it will stay strong. Theres some big prices for fat lambs at the moment and it always been a standard rule that replacement value is about one-and-a-half times the value of the slaughter lamb trade."

The same applied for North of England Mule shearling trade at Skipton Market, which saw over 5000 ewes level at £79.50. It was the biggest entry of ewes since 1996, mainly because F&M prevented sales last year and lambs stayed on breeders farms through the winter.

Buyers came from as far as the south coast eager to fill orders, said the marts general manager Jeremy Eaton.

"They were probably dearer than anticipated, but shearlings are generally worth two fat lambs, so some buyers might even consider them cheap." &#42