11 December 1998

Sheep prices in doldrums

SHEEP prices remain in the doldrums with no sign of an improvement on the horizon.

And even the card winners at Christmas shows are now making little or no more than what commercial sheep were making 12 months ago.

"Trade has been stagnant for weeks," says auctioneer Ashley Ward at Guildford, Surrey. "Theres no confidence in the job."

Sheep getting among the awards at the marts Primestock show last week were making £10-£15 more than the commercial entries.

Unlike last year, though, farmers are not delaying selling sheep in the hope of better prices after Christmas. It will cost about another £1.50/lamb/month to keep them, says Mr Ward.

Auctioneer Rob Meadmore at Hay-on-Wye isnt expecting any upturn in January. "The post-Christmas blues," he calls it.

"I would like to see lambs get back to £1/kg by mid-March – but no one knows." Despite this, stores now bought for less than £20 could still turn a profit, suggests Mr Meadmore. "Even if they just put on weight, they should make money," he says. &#42