Late spring growth maintains ewe and lamb trade

Breeding sheep with lambs at foot have met a good trade in general this spring, with interest maintained at northern marts by a late spring grass flush.

Several sales reported fluctuations and more of an “up-and-down” trade on the year, with lower buyer confidence eventually boosted as grass became plentiful into May.


A relatively large yarding for the time of year saw sharper trade on the week at Craven Cattle Market on Monday (6 June). Prices peaked at £170 for Beltex with twins from Richard Caton, who also made £132 for a Cheviot with twins.

A Charollais with singles achieved £158 for L Brown, Halifax, who also sold Mule hoggs with singles to £125, shearlings with singles to £120 and a broken-mouthed animal with twins to £135, while fetching £120 for Suffolk-cross hoggs with singles.

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Texels topped at £155 for hoggs with twins and £150 for hoggs with singles from Nick Parker, Silsden, who also sold Zwarbtles with singles to £130.

Ewes with twins at foot sold to £158 from Messrs Worsnop-Petyt, High Birstwith, while H Metcalfe, Silsden, sold shearlings with singles to £128 and ewes with singles to £122.


Recent sales at North West Auctions have shown no signs of slowing down, with hoggs and lambs selling to £172 on Monday (6 June).

This was the pick of another nice run of single Suffolk outfits from RM Wilson, Horton-in-Ribblesdale, leveling at £165 a family overall. A consignment of older sheep from S Dingley, Aughton, made £98 a family.

Early trade enjoyed high demand for older ewes with lambs that could be split, with the interest then turning towards good-quality breeding sheep in May, according to Ian Atkinson, livestock auctioneer of North West Auctions.

“In late March and early April the younger sheep that would have been ideal replacements were not as fancied due to the slow spring,” he said.

“Good-quality sheep have been in strong demand and we have had prices up to £325 a family for Mule hoggs at J36.”


Tuesday (7 June) saw the year’s dearest ewe and lamb trade at Longtown, boasting prices £3-£5 a head up on the week.

An excellent turnout of buyers supported strong trade for a good showing of 1,017 females overall across close to 400 outfits.

Trade was topped by Greyface hoggs with singles from St Johns Kirk at £80 and £79. Suffolk-cross twins with singles sold to £74, £72 and £71, while Texel hoggs with singles made £72 for Rockcliffe Cross and £68 for Wallend and Low Tippalt.  

Sheep auctioneer Neil McCleary of C&D Auction Marts said recent grass growth in June had buoyed prices after a “steady start”.

“Sunshine and higher temperatures in the 10-day run-up to Tuesday’s sale helped prices reach par with where we were last year after starting back on the year,” he told Farmers Weekly. “Grass makes trade and now there is an abundance of it.”

He said a later lambing for some and little spring grass had meant some saleyards had pushed breeding sheep sales back from the first to the third week in May.

“It is not just the weather, though. The fat trade has lifted as well,” he added. “We have seen new-season lambs making just over £2/kg and cast ewes making £70 to £80.”

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