Catering outlet closures hit heavy lamb prices at the start of the week as the sheep sector faced a second national lockdown and market disruption.
Monday’s heavy lamb values slipped 9.8p/kg on the week for 45.6-52kg offerings and 52kg-plus lots were back 20-25p/kg to below 180p/kg at some centres.
Tuesday’s SQQ slipped 11.4p/kg on the week to 203.9p/kg. The price had lifted in early November, meaning deadweight values are competitive with many market prices.
However, auctioneers and analysts report tight numbers across the country and stress that lighter lambs around 40kg had still made well in excess of 200p/kg.
Heavy lambs were severely discounted at Sedgemoor on Monday (9 November). Throughput doubled on the week after a strong sale the week before.
A total of 1,027 head averaged 193.3p/kg, back 10.3p/kg on the week, and left an SQQ of 199p/kg, back 2.8p/kg on the week.
Heavy lambs (above 52kg) lost £10-£12 a head on the week. They topped at £92-£93 a head and averaged 168p/kg, said Paul Ashton, sheep auctioneer for Greenslade Taylor Hunt.
He noted that Monday’s prime lamb average of £86 a head was only £9 a head dearer than the stores on Saturday. There is normally a £15-£20 premium.
Mr Ashton said: “Trade may take a dip because of Brexit, depending on the deal, but store lamb buyers are confident that a lot of lambs have been killed already and there will be demand for April/May-born lambs in March and April.
“A lot of store lambs are looking very dear on a p/kg basis at 28-32kg and £70-£72 a head.”
The SQQ fell 4p/kg to 211.9p/kg at St Boswells this week (9 November), as a total of 1,877 head averaged 206.2p/kg.
Lambs at 39-43kg made 210-220p/kg and lambs at about 48kg made 190p/kg. Heavier lambs at 52-53kg grossed £100 a head.
“Lambs have definitely been sold quicker this year,” said Harrison & Hetherington sheep auctioneer Adam Grieve. “The light lamb trade was very strong in July and August, so weaned Cheviots and Blackface lambs were sold early at 35-37kg rather than seeing the store ring.
“A lot of vendors are down to the last 100 or 150, so we are wondering where numbers will come from for the remainder of the year.”
He added that European lockdown arrangements and a French bank holiday had limited export demand recently.