Cull ewes the pick of New Year trade

Market reports from across the country this week have made for interesting reading and it seems the pick of the trade has been the cull ewes, with the best meat ewes making up to £150/apiece.

This price was paid at Melton Mowbray on Tuesday, with St Boswells on Monday getting as high as £140 and Carlisle on the same day reaching a top call of £143.50 and the entry levelling at an impressive £98.50.

At Newark on Wednesday the short entry sold well with Mules making up to £90.

This is a fierce trade for cull ewes and for many of these sheep they will have appreciated in value since they were bought as shearlings rather than depreciating. In fact in some cases it looks like breeding sheep could have been bought for less money last autumn and be sold as culls now to turn a profit.

Admittedly this is the extreme end of the market, but it may prompt another rash of in-lamb ewes being sold as culls rather than being lambed. I’ll not go into the morals of this practice as its a divisive issue, but with the lamb trade likely to remain strong throughout the year surely these ewes would be worth more once lambed and sold with their lambs at foot?

The prime lamb trade at the beginning of the week was also hot, with a top call at Carlisle of £111.50 and an entry which averaged 196.50p/kg. St Boswells, meanwhile, averaged 197.6p/kg and topped at £93.50.

Prices at Melton Mowbray on Tuesday went as high as £101.50 for 46kg entries and the day’s 2300 lambs sold to average 192.87p/kg.

So far, so good for the sheep trade and with store hoggets reportedly still selling well, sometimes to prices in excess of £70, there appears to still be plenty of optimism in the trade.