Export trade an option for lighter lambs
MORE light lambs should be put forward for the export trade rather than held back for an uncertain store market, suggests the trade.
Auctioneers report export-type lambs weighing 25-35kg are being put in the ring for the overseas trade. According to Mark Cleverdon of Ashford-based Hobbs Parker, the prospects of poor store prices have sunk in with many producers and that encouraged more lambs forward.
"There wont be the numbers held in anticipation of a better store market this year," says Mr Cleverdon, "Lighter sorts with a bit of feel on their backs for export are making up to £27 a head; equivalent to £22-£25 a head in the store ring."
Prices eased at the beginning of the week by between 5-6p/kg, according to MLC reports. The number of lambs marketed has been higher this June and July compared with last year.
That price decline, which saw Mondays SQQ at 74.4p/kg (down 6p/kg), has prompted farmers to put more stock forward, says Northumberland ADAS consultant John Russell. "Producers are tempted to get lambs away early after store and finished prices fell last year. However, theres still a huge number yet to come."
Lamb exports are set to increase as the main exporting period begins in mid August, says MLCs David Croston, head of sheep strategy. Numbers are 16% behind the same point last year, but southern European markets in countries such as Greece and Italy are just opening up, he says.
In the French market, lambs are competing with Irish supplies, but the latter are expected to dry up in mid August and domestic trade could pick up, he explains. In other countries, such as Spain, fewer lambs have been taken post BSE and the domestic flock has had a better lamb crops of their own.
"Its fair to say holding on to lambs in the hope that something better will happen in finished or store prices is not on," warns Mr Croston.
On the live shipments front, trade is looking strong, says David Owen of Farmers Ferry. Last year 34,275 lambs were exported live in July compared with 81,796 this month. "Nobody in the live trade is guaranteeing prices, but theyre certainly looking for numbers."
A round up from auctions earlier this week put export-type lambs at averages of between 69-73p/kg liveweight for various weight categories, says Kevin Kendal of Kendal market. *
Supermarket spec beef holds
BEEF cattle finished to supermarket specification are still holding a strong trade as numbers tighten, and despite stiff competition from cheaper imported supplies.
Trade at Ludlow on Monday reflected the national trend of a slowing down in the number of finished animals coming forward. Entries were down by 100 head to just over 420, say auctioneers McCartneys.
The decline has been triggered as the last of the yarded cattle are marketed and those finished off grass continue to build. This follows last springs poor weather which has put grass cattle back by as much as a month, says auctioneer Clive Roads.
Buyers are still eager to secure the best entries and that has helped overall averages for steers and heifers at Ludlow to creep up 2p/kg on the week to average 96p/kg and 93p/kg, respectively.
Of particular note is the emergence of some deadweight buyers back at the ringside looking to buy cattle to maintain throughput.
This weeks MAFF slaughter figures highlight that current numbers are back by 2000 head a week for mid-July compared with last year. That is mainly due to fewer steers being brought forward; in contrast, heifers remain almost static.
James Rowe of Axminster market, Devon, warns that more farm assured stock is needed to satisfy demand from buyers supplying major retailers.
Although premiums for farm assured stock are hard to pin down, auctioneers suggest more buyers vying for these cattle is helping stimulate demand. *
Low confidence hits dairy prices
OVER £550 has been wiped off average prices for dairy cattle as a result of a loss of confidence in the milk sector, report auctioneers.
David Briggs of Crewe-based Wright-Manley highlights the fall in prices brought to light at the recent dispersal of the Hayford herd of Ayrshires which took place on Monday at Westbury, Shrops. In 1992 owners RT & JML Joness on-farm sale saw prices average £950 a head; this weeks trade levelled all stock at £398.
Despite the gloom, top price of the day at 1050gns was for one of the few animals which was not home bred. Birtles Pale Girl 18th, a daughter of Bankend Lord Ontario was giving 30kgs daily in her second lactation and is a former Shropshire and West Midlands Show first prize winner. She found a new home with Alan Norbury of Knutsford, Ches.
Only one other entry broke the four-figure barrier when Hayford White Pansy 105th, a daughter of Townhead Dahlias Juror and milking with her fourth calf, sold to another member of the Jones family for 1000gns. John Jones also took away the first calver Hayford Alice 80th, a daughter of Round Bush Silver Coin, for 900gns.
Averages: 103 head, £398.80 (Wright-Manley) *
Plenty of buyers at the ringside at Cullybackey market, Co Antrim, last Thursday for the weekly entry of store cattle. Auctioneer Tommy Symington describes trade as "slightly easy". Bullocks traded at £498 for a 520kg Charolais, £355 for a 410kg Simmental and £372 for a 370kg Blonde. Heifers traded at a discount with £388 paid for a 420kg Charolais to £142 for a 240kg Simmental. Beef prices in the region average 84p/kg and remain discounted behind mainland prices.
Jul 31 Reduction sale of 675 breeding ewes, 640 store lambs and 63 suckler beef cattle, sheep and cattle handling equipment. Buckingham. Abbott Anstey Reader (01296-715725)
Jul 31 Dispersal of the Yarlet herd of Holstein Friesians (64 head), tractors, machinery and straw. Stafford. Bagshaws (01889-562811)
Jul 31 Reduction sale of the Grange herd of Limousin cattle (101 head). Daventry. Harrison & Hetherington (01228-590490)
Jul 31 Dispersal of Case tractors, machinery and milking equipment. Billingshurst. South East Marts (01483-447600)
Aug 2 Collective sale of 500 tractors, 25 combines, 1800 lots of machinery and 300 lots of contractors plant and lorries. Ely. Cheffin, Grain & Comins (01353-777767)
Aug 2 Dispersal of the Pancrass herd of Holsteins (620 head). Holsworthy. Norton & Brooksbank/KVN Stockdale (01228-590490)
Aug 2 Wales & Border NSA ram sales including prime lamb sires (820 head). Builth Wells. NSA (01291-673939)
Aug 3 Annual show and sale of Suffolk breeding sheep (187 head) for early lamb producers. Stafford. Gwilym Richards (01453-521600)
Aug 4 Sale of 12,000 store lambs mainly off Cotswolds. Evesham. Gusterson Palmer/ Williams & Watkins (01386-761241)
Aug 5 Sale of pedigree Suffolk sheep (296 head). Abergavenny. J Straker, Chadwick & Sons
Aug 5 Sale of pedigree South Devon cattle (64 head). Gloucester. Bruton Knowles (01452-303441)
Aug 6 Show & sale of 1050 single suckled store calves with show potential. Hexham. Hexham & Northern Marts (01434-605444)
Aug 6 Sale of single suckled store cattle (400 head). Knighton. McCartneys (01584-872251)
Aug 6 Sale of Rouge de lOuest, Vendeen and Berrichon du Cher sheep (160 head). Carlisle. Harrison & Hetherington
Aug 6/7 Bicester annual summer sheep fair of theaves, ewes, stores and rams (45,375 head). Buckingham. Northamptonshire Auctions (01604-769990)