Ram trade blows hot and cold without Kelso

Commercial terminal sire trade has been difficult to call as unprecedented market conditions continue into the autumn.

With no Kelso ram sales – when more than 5,000 rams can be sold in one day – due to coronavirus, the industry has lost a key trade barometer.

Some Kelso replacement rings have seen averages up, a fast trade for the best rams, and values reflective of prime lambs being 40-50p/kg dearer on the year.

However, with more sires sold privately off farm and buyers having reservations about social distancing, some trades have been more difficult.  

See also: Strong sales predicted for gimmer lambs


A change of location and the effects of coronavirus lockdown have challenged Hexham and Northern Marts, which sold Texel sheep at Lanark in conjunction with Lawrie and Symington.

A shearling average of £839 was reported in Hexham’s ring (11 September), which was back about £200 a head on the year.

Averages in Lawrie and Symington’s rings lifted. One ring sold 168 shearlings for £1,297 (up £272 on the year) and the other sold 142 shearlings for £1,101 (up £381 on the year).

Auctioneer Chris Armstrong said fewer tups were catalogued and clearance rates were lower, but the strongest commercial shearlings readily passed £1,000.

And, given all the market disruption this year, he said both himself and the Border Texel Group were “hugely grateful” to Lawrie and Symington for hosting the sale.

In contrast, Hexham’s Bluefaced Leicester Association sale (12 September) saw shearling rams average £856 (up £8.61 on the year) and ram lambs level at £1,059 (up £509 on the year). 


Two solid sales have been reported at Longtown for Texels (7 September) and Charollais and crossbred rams (13 September), although Nick Woodmass said trade was difficult to call.

He said ram buyers had been very selective this year, adding that in some years when females were a strong trade, the rams did not quite meet expectations.

“Averages are up a little, but it’s difficult to compare to Kelso because so many people have sold tups at home this year. Some people have sold the better half already and taken bidders away from the ringside.”

An entry of 220 Charollais and crossbred rams made an 84% clearance. Charollais rams were £50 dearer at £532 and lambs were £61 dearer at £420.

Texels topped at £1,350 twice during the joint sale with Border Livestock Exchange, with strong commercial rams regularly at £700-£1,000 and an 89% clearance. Trade averaged £600.45, which was slightly up on the year.