Ram prices take a turn for better
By Tim Relf
RAM prices nudged up at the National Sheep Associations first big sale of the year at Builth Wells on Monday.
The Powys event saw averages up for most Suffolks, Texels and Charollais, with a top price of 920gns.
"Encouraging news after a traumatic period in the sheep industry," said ram sale committee chairman, George Hughes. "A sign of optimism in a sheep industry that was looking extremely gloomy at the beginning of this year."
Top price went to a Charollais yearling from John Davies, Redditch, Worcs, who started his Windmill flock 10 years ago with the purchase of four ewe lambs from a Builth Wells sale.
The animal scooped first prize in the Charollais show section and met a fierce demand on a day when buyers were out in force. "The ringside was crowded from the first lot through to the last," said Mr Davies.
"People seem to realise that it is a false economy to try and scrimp on rams. If you get a premium for the lambs, the cost is soon recouped," he says.
Auctioneer Philip Dale, of Lacy Scott and Knight, agrees that trying to economise on breeding stock is false economy. "A good tup is, after all, half the lamb," he says.
Some farmers who traditionally set themselves a maximum price to pay for rams find, if they break this routine, that they reap the benefits. "The lambs have been a better length and quality and have been sold at heavier weights."
Alwyn Jones of auctioneers Jones Peckover says trade for tups at this seasons early sales has been buoyant on the back of the relatively good returns for early-finished lambs. *
NSAsale – average prices
£ a head 1997
MVA rams 366 363
MVA ram lambs 287 281
Non-MVA rams 342 381
Rams 319 294
Ram lambs 310 95
Rams 395 386
Ram lambs 318 281