Cheviot prices plunge by 50%
PRICES fell by 50% at the annual sale of North Country Cheviot store lambs at Lairg, Sutherland, last week.
The 19,000 wedder lambs averaged £23.67 compared with £41.67 last year. And 8240 ewe lambs, at £31.70, were down from £45. About 2000 went home unsold.
Total takings were £711,000 compared with £1.3m in 1997, with the catalogued entry of 40,000 reduced to 27,500 on the day. "Entries have to be in early and when breeders went through their sheep, many were not ready for sale," said Pat Lawson from United Auctions. "Others stayed away because they knew trade would be bad."
The general depression in farming, the lack of keep, and the amount of money lost by feeders last year contributed to the drop in trade. "I have been in this game for 43 years and I know that more money was lost in lamb fattening last year than in the previous 42 years put together.
"Not only did feeders lose large sums last year but they are now facing their own 50% drop in grain returns from lighter crops and lower prices. Many have simply withdrawn from the livestock side of their businesses," said Mr Lawson.
Other store sales in the north of Scotland have recorded the same 50% drop in values and shorter-keep lambs at centres throughout Scotland are down about 25% on the year.
But first indications from breeding sales show ewe lambs back by 10% or less. The main sales of Mules and halfbreds are being held during the next two weeks.
Finished lamb prices have also been on the slide as more come to market. "The only thing which had been maintaining prices was a shortage of supplies because lambs were not finishing on schedule because of all the rain we have had," said Scottish NFU president, George Lyon. *