Better sheep prices could be temporary

Tuesday, 6 January, 1998

By FW reporters

SHEEP met with good demand at auctions across the country yesterday, as bad weather restricted the number of sales.

Prices rose as a result. But some auctioneers suggested that improved returns are unlikely to last.

At Penrith, Cumbria, auctioneer Stuart Bell attributed a 6p/kg price rise to a weather-related drop in marketings. He warned: “As soon as offerings rise, prices could be back down again. Theres masses of sheep about.”

At Gloucester, sellers saw a 7p/kg increase take the typical animal to £40/head. Auctioneer Gavin Loynes said wet and windy weather had restricted the entry to about 1,400 sheep, compared with nearer 2,500 a week ago.

At Exeter, auctioneer Alan Venner said many farmers were holding back at the moment to avoid being penalised for selling dirty sheep.

That view was echoed by auctioneer Ian Lawton at Bakewell in Derbyshire.

“Its twice the job to produce something presentable in terms of a clean fleece,” he said.

Once the weather improves, figures from the Meat & Livestock Commission suggest sheep marketings over the next three months could be 20% above the same period last year.

But back at Gloucester, Gavin Loynes is doubtful. “I dont think the backlog existed in the first place,” he said. “A lot of people have bitten the bullet and sold sheep anyway.”

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