Store lambs strong but likely to ease

Store lamb finishers are hoping values ease from their current red-hot levels as prime lamb prices slip back and the Brexit date looms closer.  

National store averages from Ahdb data are £8 a head up on the year, fuelled by ample grass and decent margins for most of 2020.

An entry of 2,992 store lambs averaged £53 (+£13 on the year) at Portree, Isle of Skye, on Monday (24 August).

That day Stirling United Auctions saw more than 5,900 store lambs return averages of £71-£72.41 for Suffolk Texel and Beltex crosses. Blackfaces averaged £48 and Mules averaged £68.59.

See also: EU appetite for lamb returning to pre-coronavirus levels


Fewer store lambs have passed through Hereford market this year, but more have been sold as prime, auctioneer Greg Christopher told Farmers Weekly.

“The good spring meant lambs did well and the prices of late have meant more farmers have taken advantage of the trade,” said Mr Christopher.

Monday (25 August) saw almost 2,500-head average £66, over £10 a head up on the year.

Recent prime lamb losses had taken £2-£3 a head off the strong, short-keep lambs this week. Meaty short-term lambs were generally at £75-£82 a head.

Smart medium-term lambs made £70-£74, the next draw down hit £67-£70 and longer-term lambs looked “very dear” at £58-£63 a head, with very little under £50.  

“Professional feeders are reluctant to get involved at the minute and roots and green crops are not ready yet anyway,” he added. “A lot of our trade has been underpinned by farmers buying 500 or so to keep on top of grass.”

Lamb prices were likely to come under pressure and ease slightly in the coming weeks, he predicted.

Caledonian marts

Stirling Caledonian Marts’ operations manager Aly Logan said small Scotch Blackface lambs were looking well sold, at £50 a head for a 30kg lamb.

Hill lambs with good conformation have caught the eye of deadweight finishers, he added.

Last week’s sale (19 August) saw 5,012 store lambs through the ring – about twice as many on the year – with numbers driven by a change in sale date, vendors selling earlier and a kind spring.

Blackface lambs averaged £47.79 ahead (up £13 a head on the year) and Mules averaged £66.50 (up £12 a head on the year). Beltex lambs averaged £68.45 (up £9 on the year).

“Buyers don’t know if they’re doing right or wrong at the moment. Only time will tell,” said Mr Logan.”

The numbers

£68.38 National average price for store lambs for the week ending 15 August (+£8 on the year), according to Ahdb

4.7p/kg How much Monday’s SQQ dropped on the week, to settle at 202.4p/kg

£124 Top prime lamb price at Sedgemoor on Monday (24 August) as 1,013 finished lambs levelled at 198.93p/kg