By Tim Relf

NEW-SEASON lambs are making brisk prices as limited numbers are sold.

“Im really delighted,” says West Country farmer Jeremy Hosking, who saw a batch last weekend make 330p/kg deadweight. “That was way beyond my expectations. It looks as if its set fair for the next six weeks, too.

” But the chance of any further upturn is limited, says Mr Hosking. “Id be very surprised if it hit 350p.”

“Better than expected” is how Essex producer Gerald Ketley describes the early season business. But where values will be in six weeks time when he sells his first batch of the season is another matter. “I dont think they will be as high as they are now.”

The number on offer will rapidly build towards the end of the month. “Most people in this area are about three weeks behind,” Mr Ketley. “The sheep have been poaching and not grazing properly.”

Auctioneer Gavin Loynes at Gloucester has also seen wet conditions slow the progress of lambs. Their arrival in marts has also been delayed, after farmers put back lambing to catch the post-Easter trade which proved better than pre-Easter over the last couple of years.

“Everyone is looking for them, too,” says Mr Loynes. Monday at Gloucester saw the best making 160p/kg liveweight or more. Some are topping £60/head. “People are happy Ñ the job is looking a bit better at the moment.”

Hoggets, meanwhile, could stay a good trade, with lamb numbers likely to build only slowly over the next four weeks, says Mr Loynes.

As April unfolds more hoggets could fall foul of the Specified Risk Material dentition rules. Those that do are only making about £28-£30, says Mr Loynes.

Auctioneer Rob Meadmore at Hay-on-Wye also warns about teething rules. “My advice to people with tegs is throw as many pellets at them as possible and get them gone by the end of the month.”

While its still only a handful involved – those affected are discounted by £10 or £15/head.

  • New-season lambs averaged 153p/kg liveweight at GB marts on Monday. Hoggets were 97.5p/kg.