By Jeremy Hunt
AUCTIONEERS are encouraged by the first signs of trade for shearling ewes through private deals.
The impending log-jam of breeding sheep is causing great concern and many producers will “sit tight” away from the marketplace for replacement stock this autumn.
But despite marketing and movement difficulties imposed by foot-and-mouth, auctioneers are striking private deals for shearling ewes that would traditionally have been booked into the mid-summer sheep fairs.
Co-ordinating private sales is not easy, admit the auctioneers, but providing farmers can be specific on their requirements, most feel they can match buyers and sellers, organise flock inspections, and complete the transaction.
Brian Pile of Northampton Auction Mart has 32,000 sheep on his private sales register, 20,000 of which are shearlings.
“In many cases we are seeing small groups of farmers spending a day looking around a few selected flocks before they make a decision.
“Farmers are having to take the 21-day rule into account when planning their buying, but we are already seeing sheep moving on to new farms,” said Mr Pile.
Prices are realistic with Suffolk x Mule shearlings at 45-52, Suffolk x Scotch Halfbreds at 45-50 and North of England Mules around 62 apiece.
Another consideration is the age of the sheep, says Eddie Bullman, of Buckinghamshire. “We had already switched to buying shearlings to sell as two-shears.
“Those who buy ewe lambs, and now have dry shearlings to sell, face the problem of how to restock with ewe lambs from clean areas.”