Exeter shearling ewe trade up £39.75 on 2010

A strong demand for quality ewes from regular buyers buoyed by the strong prime lamb and cull ewe trade saw pushed averages up by nearly £40/head at Exeter Market’s breeding ewe sale on Tuesday.

With more than 5500 sheep penned auctioneer Chris Clapham said the trade was sharp in all sections, but it was noticeable that quality was also better than at the corresponding fixture last year.

“The average for the 3260 shearling ewes sold levelled at £148.80, up by £39.75 on the year, but last year’s sale did included some poorer runs which pulled the 2010 average back a bit.

“A lot of vendors would have enjoyed averages up by £30 on the year, but with the killing ewes being so dear this year it’s no surprise to see farmers re-investing in quality replacements.”

Top price of the day in the shearlings was £198/head paid for a pen of purebred Suffolk ewes from Messrs Drake Bros, North Tawton.

Meanwhile, in the 1598 Suffolk x Mule shearling ewes sold the best price was £180/head for the champion pen from regular sale toppers Messrs A and L Gillard, Tedburn St Mary, with the next best a £168/head call for a strong pen from R J Coward and Son, Mere, Wiltshire.

“There would have been a lot of pens of Suffolk x Mules at £160-£165, with the overall average for them being £150.”

There were just 340 Mules traded on the day with these peaking at £166 twice for pens from M and R Hutchings, Barnstaple. “The Mules averaged £152.54 which is about where you’d expect them to be on the rest of the trade.”

Other highlights in the shearling ewes included a top of £178/head in the Dorsets, with these section toppers coming from W V Kidner, Newton Abbot. A total of 192 Dorsets levelled the day at £169.11, said Mr Clapham.

A strong entry of 681 older ewes, mainly full mouth ewes, were led at £175/head by a pen of one-lamb Suffolk x Mules from Milbourn Farms, Wincanton, with these section seeing a steady demand to level the sale at £121.12. “This reflects the lack of numbers of older ewes available at the moment as a result of many having being killed on a strong cull market.”

And in the ewe lambs Mr Clapham saw a top call of £101 paid for several of the best pens of Suffolk x Mule lambs from long-distance vendors, Brighton, Sussex-based J and M Carr. “We sold a total of 411 ewe lambs on the day and these were well sold to average £90.56 throughout,” added Mr Clapham.

Looking ahead to the rest of the sales season Mr Clapham said he expected an entry of about 2500 breeding females at the centres next major sale in August, with demand likely to stay strong too. “Not that we’re seeing anyone dramatically increasing numbers. Generally people are buying the same numbers as in previous years and are having the confidence to pay well for their replacements.

“Most buyers are looking for just enough ewes to replace their culls and keep their flocks steady at current numbers. I can’t see the ewe trade getting a lot dearer than it has been already this year, but equally I don’t expect it to drop away much either.

Averages; 3260 shearling ewes £148.80, 681 older ewes £121.12, 411 ewe lambs £90.56 (Exeter Market Auctioneers)