Trade was faster this year at Kelso on Friday 13 September, as spirited commercial and pedigree bidding lifted overall averages by £16 to £698.
This is the second-highest average after the record £709 in 2017, suggesting commercial lamb producers are not perturbed by an impending Brexit.
A total of 4,191 (-199) rams sold to an 81.35% (80.45% in 2018) clearance. Shearlings topped with “crossing-type” Bluefaced Leicesters at £15,000 and £12,000, and two Texels at £8,500.
A much smaller entry of Bluefaced Leicester sheep (-32% on the year) saw a faster trade, with 450 shearlings levelling at £968 (+£28 on the year) and 38 lambs averaging £616.
Sheep sold “very well” for Lawrie and Symington’s head of sheep sales Archie Hamilton, who said the best rams saw a flying trade.
He said mules had been a better trade this year, which helped demand for Bluefaced Leicesters, adding that there was obviously enthusiasm from many breeders to keep producing mules.
Mr Hamilton said trade in the ring was above vendors’ expectations, with 277 shearlings at an average of £1,043 and 30 lambs levelling at £634.
“Trade has been far better than expected considering the doom and gloom surrounding the industry and Brexit,” he told Farmers Weekly.
“People were looking for rams with power, good colours and correctness. The tups ticking those boxes sold very well.”
Texels up by £93
Texels saw healthy demand lift averages and the better end of the pedigree and commercial Texel shearlings see a fast trade, as averages lifted £93 on the year to £975.
This compared to last year’s trade which saw averages buoyed by a Garngour shearling at £29,000 and a Blackadder shearling at £16,000.
Shearling trade peaked at £8,500 twice and also hit £8,000, while 164 lambs topped at £4,000 and averaged £516, back £127 on last year’s average.
Lawrie and Symington auctioneer Sandy Moore said the top end of the sheep were very good to sell, but vendors were becoming more selective.
He said animals with good skins offering size and the potential to throw good Texel-cross females were in demand.
Mr Moore’s ring saw 155 shearlings top at £7,200 to average £720 and 112 ram lambs sell to £2,800 to average £473, which he said was remarkably firm.
“The breeding sales have been fairly good this autumn so far,” said Mr Moore, who said a lower prime lamb trade through 2019 had not prevented commercial farmers from investing in good rams.
A total of 598 shearlings peaked at £3,200 and averaged £580, while 11 ram lambs sold to £500 and averaged £341, making crossed tups the second most numerous class after Texels.
Nick Woodmass of C and D Marts said crossbred tups remained popular, with the Beltex-cross Texel the easiest to sell and most sought after.
“People were after tups with good skins and plenty of shape to go on and breed quality lambs for the export market,” said Mr Woodmass.
Suffolks top lamb prices
Suffolks dominated the day’s lamb trade once again, accounting for 48% of the lamb throughputs and £6,000 and £4,000 calls.
In the maedi-visna accredited section, an entry of 208 shearlings averaged £789, an increase of £92 on the year. Meanwhile, an entry of 250 lambs sold for £475, back £45 on the year.
Auctioneer Scott Donaldson of Harrison and Hetherington said buyers had become very selective, with figures becoming more important.
“Good sheep were easier to sell than last year,” he told Farmers Weekly. “People are after those sheep with growth, muscle and good skins. Those trying to produce a commercial crossbred ewe look for smooth black hair on the heads and legs.”