Rams up £184 as record trade continues at Builth

A remarkable year for prime lamb prices swelled averages to a record-breaking £694 at the NSA Main Sale of rams and females at Builth Wells on Monday (20 September).

Like Kelso, ram entries and numbers sold were back on the year, with 2,849 rams changing hands (down 16% on 2019). Kelso’s numbers were 31% back with 3,536 sold.

There were fewer crossbred rams entered and traded. Terminal sire crossbreds were back 41%, with just 123 sold.

Averages lifted by £184 a head on 2019 – a 36% rise. This is mirrored by a similar hike in the liveweight SQQ between August 2019 and August 2021, with lambs at 238p/kg last month.

See also: Kelso ram average lifts 38% as records tumble

Selective at times

Although new records were set, there was a noticeable two-tier trade at times between the first- and second-quality commercial rams.

Greg Christopher of Hereford Market Auctioneers said pedigree breeders gave up to 1,000-2,000gns for Charollais ram lambs with the bottom end of the lambs regularly making 300-400gns.

He added: “Lambs that had power and were harder bred that weren’t too pink in the ears regularly made 500-700gns for commercial flocks.”

The best commercial yearlings made 800-1,000gns, but there was a gulf between the second-choice rams at nearer 500-700gns, he added.

Strong Suffolk trade

Lyndon Trumper of J Straker Chadwick, a partner firm at Monmouth Livestock Auctioneers, also saw very discerning bidding from buyers for the maedi-visna (MV) accredited Suffolk ram lambs in ring four.

A relatively low entry of 106 ram lambs met an 89% clearance and levelled at £535, up £80 on 2019.

Mr Trumper said buyers were after rams to improve their flocks, rather than hunting for bargains. “Even if a ram was in a very good pen and was just lacking something, it was noticeable that buyers discounted them,” said Mr Trumper.

A tight supply of Suffolks made for a strong trade, underpinned by demand from pedigree breeders, prime lamb producers and breeders who sought a good ram for putting across Mules. “Clean headed sheep with good carcasses for putting onto Mules sold well,” Mr Trumper added.

Texels top trade

Texel numbers were down on 2019, but shearlings were only back 7%, compared to ram lambs at 21%. Pedigree Texel shearlings levelled at £935, up £168 a head on 2019 and £358 (38%) dearer than non-pedigree rams.

Cefyn Price, Llanfair, Welshpool, topped the price list at 8,000gns with a Granite Untouchable son out of a homebred Kimbolton Venturer daughter.

Caereinion Dan Dare is a top 1% sire and caught the eye of WG Davies and Son, Hirwaun, Mid Glamorgan, to join their Cwmcynon flock.

Cheviots smash records

A new North Country Cheviot sale record of 3,600gns was set in ring 19 as breeders sought strong Park-type rams with good bodies and tight skins. The previous record was 1,710gns.

Phil Jones of Monmouthshire Livestock Auctioneers said several buyers had bought their first Cheviot ram on the day.

“I spoke to a lot of new buyers getting into Cheviots, both for hill or lowland ewes,” said Mr Jones, who reported a 92% clearance for 143 rams forward and an average of £564, which was up £131 on the 2019 fixture.

Hill-type North Country Cheviots averaged £357, which was back £8 on the 2019 sale, and 66 South Country Cheviots lifted £92 to level at £607 and leave at 94% clearance rate.

Mr Jones said the bulk of the sheep were from Welsh breeders and flocks along the English border, although breeders from Devon and Cornwall, northern England and a Scottish flock were in attendance.

“There was a very good commercial trade for tups to put over Cheviot or Welsh ewes.

“Buyers were willing to pay up to 900gns for anything that stood out and lots of rams made 500-900gns. The breed has definitely gained popularity in recent years.”


The numbers 

How much dearer Bluefaced Leicester shearlings were compared to the 2019 sale, at an average of £790

Total clearance across all breeds and rings, compared to 86% last year

Average price for Beltex-cross shearlings – up £158 on the 2019 sale for 148 sold (down 50)




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