Slow start to ewe and lamb trade
BAD weather and doubts over the price of new-season lamb was creating caution among buyers at the seasons first sales of ewes with lambs at foot early this week.
Although some markets are reporting ewes and twins down as much as £20 an outfit on last year, other are reporting a slightly better trade. Auctioneer Michael Evans at Hereford says some have seen prices up by about £5.
Full and broken-mouth lowland ewes suckling twins have been selling at £50-£68 an outfit at Hereford. Similar age ewes with singles range from £30-£54. "Thats fair money for the best on offer," reckons Mr Evans who has been selling 200-250 ewes with lambs in recent weeks.
Alan Venner of Exeter describes demand as "a little easier", with young two-tooth outfits making £25-£35/life.
"We are getting around 200-300 ewes each week and demand is reasonable. There is certainly a knock-on effect on ewe and lamb trade when confidence is boosted by a good trade for suck lambs at our Monday market," said Mr Venner.
Torrential rain in the north- west this week dampened enthusiasm at many sales, especially where ewes and lambs are being brought to market from inside systems before being turned out to grass.
But at Lancaster, auctioneer John Hughes said trade was holding at around £72-£78 for correct Mule ewes with twins. Single outfits were making £36-£40.
"Its been terribly wet this week but theres still plenty of demand from regular buyers and those wanting to keep numbers up for the retention period," said Mr Hughes. *
Continental breakfast… Worcesters new market hosted its first sale of Continental cross store cattle last weekend. Steers and heifers averaged 108p and 85p/kg, respectively.
Lid set to descend on pig price rise
MEAT coming out of EU stores could dampen the rise in pig prices.
Next month could see the release of up to 21,000t of the 225,000t stockpiled under Brussels private storage aid scheme, according to German economists ZMP. This compares with about just 1000t and 2500t in February and March respectively.
Bury St Edmunds-based consultant Peter Crichton reckons it could affect the bottom end of the market – the manufacturing and sow meat.
But UK prices are likely to escape any big hit, he reckons, with the market now partly "ring-fenced". Buyers, he says, want to source "UK-friendly" product – and what comes out of store is not in this category.
Meanwhile weaner and finished values are increasing, says Mr Crichton. "But theres no cause for complacency yet."
Mondays auction average at marts was up 5p on the week to nearly 62p/kg lw. *
Bright prospects for grass let rates
GRASS lets are expected to maintain last years levels in Scotland.
Talk among farmers that ground will be cheaper is denied by auctioneers, who expect the need for extra land for extensification subsidies to ensure a buoyant market.
There could also be less grass on the market, which would also help firm prices. "I cant see prices rising on last year, but the need to maximise subsidy returns will guarantee a demand," says Lanark auctioneer Brian Ross.
The 2000 acres let last year by Mr Ross ranged from £15/acre for hill land to £120/acre for the best low ground parks at an average of £80/acre.
"We will also have less to let this year with land having gone to trees," said Mr Ross.
In the Borders, Frank Forrest of John Swan & Sons will probably let about 3000 acres and expects prices to be similar to last year when they averaged £79/acre, which was down 20% on 1997.
At Castle Douglas, Robin Anderson also forecasts similar rates to last year at about £75/acre on average.
David Leggat at Perth thinks he could have less to let this time. "My gut feeling is that prices should be down a little, but, with extensification demands, there will probably be little change," he said.
And in Aberdeenshire it was the same story from auctioneer Jim Mair. "Extensification puts a false value on grass and I cannot see there being much change from prices around £100/acre for decent grass," he said. *
The mane man… James Burrs miniature pony, Swells Baron, was a champ at the Aberdeen Spring Show and Sale last week. This was a day when 280t of seed potatoes were also on offer, making to £500/tonne for VTSC2 Desiree and averaging £316/t.
MAR 5 Store cattle auction. Stratford-on-Avon, Warks. Stratford on Avon Stock Sales (01789-292896)
MAR 5 Spring show and sale of Welsh Black cattle, comprising six bulls and 21 females. Dolgellau, Gwynedd. Breed Society (01286-672391)
MAR 6 Dispersal of 106 Limousin cross cattle, plus machinery. Saltash, Cornwall. Kivells (01579-345543)
MAR 6 Auction of machinery and equipment. Keadby, Lincs. DDM (01652-653669)
MAR 8 Dispersal of 90 Holstein Friesian dairy cows, youngstock, plus a Simmental bull. Also tractors, surplus machinery and dairy equipment. Rodden, Somerset. Cooper & Tanner (01373-831010)
MAR 9 Dispersal of potato growing, harvesting and grading equipment. Pewsey, Wilts. Cheffins Grain & Comins (01223-358731)
MAR 9 Spring show and sale of store cattle. Plus offering of in-lamb ewes. Hawes, North Yorks. Hawes Auction Mart (01969-667207)
MAR 10 Auction of machinery, tractors and equipment for ADAS. Boxworth, Cambs. FPDSavills (01522-551115)
MAR 10 Auction of machinery and implements. Tickhill, Yorks. John * Pickup & Co (01302-325661)
MAR 11 Dispersal of arable farming equipment and machinery. Keyston, Cambs. Henry * Bletsoe & Son (01832-732241)
MAR 11 Sale of machinery and equipment (400 lots) from arable, hop and fruit farm. Faversham, Kent. Bax Thomas French (01233-733882)
MAR 11 Mid-month sale of dairystock. Crewe, Cheshire. Wright-Manley (01270-250500)
MAR 11 Machinery and equipment dispersal. Thorney, Cambs. Brown & Co (01945-464747)
MAR 12 Daffodil Day Show and Sale of Blonde dAquitaine cattle (39 head). Carlisle, Cumbria. Harrison & Hetherington (01228-590490)
MAR 12 Dispersal of Land Rovers, forklift, tractors, trailers, implements and machinery. Chipping Warden, Oxon. Howkins & Harrison (01788-506321)