Watch costs on firm store lambs

Store lamb trade remains firm, averaging more than £61 a head in England and Wales and £49 a head in Scotland in the week to 18 September, according to EBLEX.

In Derbyshire, Bakewell market’s second store sale on 15 September saw more than 9400 lambs sold at an average of £55.68 a head.

Leek Auctions, Staffordshire, averaged £57 a head at its most recent sale of 4500 lambs and has another 6000 booked in for Saturday (25 September). There were new buyers and, with plenty of grass about, some regular customers were looking for more lambs than usual, said auctioneer Graham Watkins.

The strong finished lamb trade, with an SQQ average of 156p/kg lw in England and Wales and 153p/kg in Scotland on Tuesday (21 September), is encouraging store stock buyers but Mark Topliff, senior analyst with AHDB, cautioned that if costs and selling prices were the same as last season, a £62 store lamb would leave a negative net margin after cash costs of -£3.15 a head.

Net margin after all costs, including family labour, rental value and working capital interest, would be -£6.91 a head, but costs have risen this year.

Auctioneer Elwyn Davies of Hobbs Parker, Ashford, Kent, is selling about 5000 store lambs a week. He reckoned that there were about 10% fewer lambs to be marketed in the south east between now and April next year and that store lamb finishers would make a profit.