19 January 1996

Store sheep continue a fast trade

By Tim Relf

STORE hogget prices remain buoyant, despite the declining quality of offerings in many markets, and, with the end of the season approaching, numbers have begun to dry up almost everywhere.

Auctioneer Ashley Ward at Guildford, Surrey, says that, despite last weeks "mixed bag", prices still rose to £43. The same day, finished sheep prices topped at £53, so there is scope to make money, he adds.

At Skipton, North Yorks, auctioneer John Hanson says prices have eased slightly, "mirroring" the fat trade. But the best stores have also still been topping the £40-mark.

"Some sheep have finished well and farmers have been buying stores to replace them," points out auctioneer Brian Pile at Banbury.

People have been more willing to sell finished sheep a few at a time rather than waiting and selling them all together, by which time some of them could be over-fat, he says. And this has led to a "higher turnover" of stock, and bolstered demand for stores.

Farmers are confident about likely finished prices in six to eight weeks time, adds Mr Pile. "But not long after that new season lambs will be appearing."

But at Exeter, Devon, the first suck lambs are already arriving. Mondays sale saw 25 forward. Even though this is a very early area, by March there still wont be enough on offer to affect the hogget trade, suggests auctioneer Alan Venner.

About 1500 stores were forward at Exeter on Monday, averaging £37.50. But numbers are now expected to fall rapidly. &#42