New-season lambs hit the market

By FWi staff

NEW-SEASON lamb values soared at livestock auctions this week as the earliest lambs started to trickle onto the market.

At markets this week, new lambs climbed about 22p on last week to 129.69p/kg.

Light lambs rose 6.54p at 110.45p/kg, while standard lambs climbed 21.51p at 129.29p/kg. Medium lamb prices rose of 26.57p at 133.21p/kg.

Old-season lambs have also gained as they continue to inch up on the back of falling numbers. Values rose about 3.84p this week at 89.21p/kg.

The lamb market has seen a general upward trend this year, said Meat and Livestock Commision economist Sue Fisher.

She says that this increase in prices is due to a number of retail promotions, which have increased the consumption of lamb by 20% compared with 1998.

Auctioneers are reporting well-fleshed hoggets selling at a premium, she added. “But slaughterings are falling back now, and this will firm prices,” she said.

“New-season lambs are entering the market, but are still very early.”

Martin Lister of Otley market, West Yorkshire, echoed this, saying that the quality of hoggets has improved and with this, he has seen prices rise to 100p-105p/kg.

Most farmers have now got rid of last years stock, and there are few finished hogs about, he said.

“But there are a few remnants of last year about, and were seeing a lot of sweeping-up,” said Mr Lister. “Weve seen erratic shows of both numbers and quality.”

He believes that the supply of old-season lambs will continue for some time due to the recent wet weather.

There was a large number of hoggets wintered on roots, and this has caused selling problems due to dirt, he said.

“There are a lot of lambs out there that will not come to market until the weather comes better.

“Prices may creep up a little, but not significantly,” he added.

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