Buyers back in market for gimmers
By Jeremy Hunt
MIDWAY through the 10-hour sale of 18,300 Mule gimmer lambs at Hawes mart in North Yorks on Monday, hill farmers looked relieved that prices for running lambs were showing a slight improvement on earlier sales.
And as the last lambs were passing through the ring at 8pm, auctioneer Raymond Lund reflected on a day of "fair trade all round".
He said: "Demand for these lambs, which were mainly runners, was better than expected. Quality was as high as we have seen at this sale for many years. Lambs have thrived in the recent good weather and buyers were back in the market for sheep, and that meant smaller lambs were dearer than at our earlier sale."
Although good quality shearlings are now being sold for as little as £50-£55 in the Midlands and south to make room for ewe lambs, many buyers were prepared to pay up to £39 for quality running lambs and to £41 for lambs to tup. Top price at Hawes was £67, but trading averaged at £36.
Roger Scarr, who farms at Askrigg in the Yorks Dales, sold 145 strong running lambs, averaging £38.50. "Things are bad enough, but they could have been worse," he said. "At least there is still a trade and sheep are moving south."
Last weeks sale at Penrith of 8000 Mule gimmer lambs off Lakeland fell farms averaged £35.50. Smaller lambs sustained a better demand then expected.
As auctioneer Gordon Teasdale made last-minute preparations for the seasons major midweek sale of 29,000 Mule gimmer lambs at Lazonby, Cumbria, he urged buyers to consider the true value of these breeding sheep.
"This is the year to buy these lambs. They are tremendous value when you consider their potential lifetime earning potential and the ewe premium. They may never be as cheap again," said Mr Teasdale.
Around 80% of last weeks entry of 5000 Mule lambs at Leyburn, North Yorks, were runners but prices levelled at £36.12.
"Buyers are waking up to these prices and a lot of enquiries for our next sale are from new customers. With the subsidy to come, all these lambs have to do is live and they are a sound investment for any lowland flock," said a spokesman for the market.
Leading Bucks-based ewe lamb buyer Eddie Bulman said all his regular customers were still ordering lambs. "The medicine has been taken and money has been lost on shearlings, but buyers are looking ahead." *