8 March 1996

Weather lifts spring lambs

BETTER weather has brought spring lambs to markets in higher numbers than last year.

Exeter saw a total of 1100 sold during February, more than twice as many as in the same month in 1995. Traditionally seen as one of the earliest areas, this market accounts for a large proportion of the offering at this time of year.

Last week, for example, of a total of 560 new season lambs sold, 390 were through Exeter.

Most lambs in the 36kg to 41kg weight range are selling well, says auctioneer Alan Venner.

Mondays entry of 482 head averaged 145.6p/kg. Despite the higher entries, prices have been up on corresponding weeks last year.

The national SQQ, meanwhile, stood at 144.7p/kg on Monday (Mar 4), which marked a 2.24p/kg fall on the week.

Hoggets in the 36kg to 48kg range are also meeting a brisk trade, taking the overall average to 136.8p/kg on Monday, according to Mr Venner.

Nationwide, the hogget SQQ stood at 133.4p/kg on Monday.

Hoggets are still plentiful in number, says auctioneer Glandon Lewis at Welshpool. "The ideal weight is 34kg to 38kg, but there are not many of the lighter ones to be seen."

Many are 45kg or heavier, and they may be making over £60 a head, he adds.

Meanwhile at Hereford earlier this week, although no spring lambs had yet been marketed, auctioneer David Probert said he was expecting their arrival very shortly.

"Some producers are reluctant to lamb too early, as they think the very early lambs may not make as much as those sold three or four weeks into the season," says Mr Probert.

With local abattoirs looking for them at about 320p/kg deadweight, the first entries could be making between 150p and 160p/kg liveweight, he says. &#42