The first “suck” lambs of the season went under the hammer at Exeter Market today and topped at £96.50 for a pen of 54 kg pure-bred Poll Dorsets from Messrs DH & H Mildon & Son of Cadbury, near Exeter. Overall average was 213.75 a kilo or £87.12 a head.


Although the sale was somewhat overshadowed by an unexpectedly large entry of just over 1000 hoggets, the 104 suck lambs met a good trade and were up nearly £9 a head on the year. Top price per kilo was 233p for a pen of 37.4 kg lambs from Mr F E Tucker of Pennymoor, Tiverton.


Dennis Mildon, who runs 400 Poll Dorsets, started lambing at the end of October and despite the wet winter had managed to keep ewes and lambs outside.


“They’ve been on grass all the way through and the lambs have had some creep, but they’ve never been inside,” said Mr Mildon.


Although prices were up on last year he had expected a bigger lift. “But this is only the first sale and our lambs may have been a bit heavier than we like them to be but most were singles that we’d kept hold of for this sale.”


He sold 22 lambs on the day at an average weight of 45.5kg. “We’ll be selling lambs every week now but the ideal weight for this trade is 42-44kg.”


A spokesman for Exeter Market Auctioneers said the coming weeks would see suck lamb numbers steadily increase. “Last year it was March 14th before we had above 100 lambs and numbers jumped to 368.


“But I think some traditional sellers have lambed a bit later this year in the hope of targeting more lambs at the Easter trade which should start to have an impact on prices by late March.”


(Exeter Market Auctioneers)