Torrential and prolonged autumn rain has helped put £4-£6 a head on finished lambs early in the week by limiting growth rates and tightening supply.
Great Britain’s marts have seen fewer lambs forward, while latest deadweight figures suggest numbers are steady.
The weeks ending 12 and 19 October saw 145,531 lambs compared with 131,071 over the previous two weeks, a drop of 10%.
This, along with Brexit’s postponement, has helped support prices, which have hit 200p/kg at Wigton market over the past two weeks and rocketed 15p/kg to leave the English SQQ at 184p/kg on Monday (4 November).
Despite lambs with meat and finish being hard to find, a very standard entry of 1,480-head achieved an SQQ of 189p/kg at Rugby on Monday (4 November).
This equates to 410p/kg on a deadweight basis with a 46% killout percentage, according to auctioneer Tom Wrench, who noted that 25% of lambs made £90 or more.
He said Brexit had made exporters quiet, fearing that lambs would be sent over to Europe and money lost due to interrupted trade. “The London meat wholesalers have also come back looking for lambs. They perhaps aren’t able to get imported lamb cheaper at Smithfield (London Central Markets) so they are coming here.”
He said lamb growth rates had been hit in the wet weather, with farmers reluctant to add hard feed and reports of foot issues due to the wet autumn.
One of the highest SQQs in recent months was reported at Skipton after its November prime show on Monday (4 November), which saw a big number of white-faced export lambs and fewer horned lambs.
An entry of 2,572 head averaged 180p/kg across the board and achieved an SQQ of 190p/kg, a lift of 23p/kg on the previous week for 357 (-12%) fewer lambs.
A smaller entry of horned lambs, and extremely good quality, pushed averages higher, with lowland lambs £5-£6 a head dearer on the week and a lot of white-faced 38-42kg lambs ticking a lot of boxes for buyers.
Commercial export lambs were making 190-210p/kg and several vendors had lambs at 42-45kg making £110-£116 a head.
“Numbers have certainly tightened,” auctioneer Ted Ogden told Farmers Weekly. “We’ve done a good job of marketing light lambs on Wednesdays in the store ring.”