Sales slow as sheep fairs bite the dust

By James Garner

EVERY summer, sheep fairs in the midlands and East Anglia shift about 60,000-70,000 ewes from upland to lowland flocks.

Of the fairs, Bicester is probably the biggest and one of the earliest each year, taking place on the first Friday in August.

This year, Bicesters time has been and gone, and has been missed, not least by the auctioneers at Northampton market that run the sale.

Brian Pile has been selling sheep at the sale for 30 years and reckons that in a normal year, he would sell 20,000 thieves (shearling ewes), 10,000 breeding ewes and 10,000 store lambs.

This year, the many phone calls and farm visits have yielded private sales of several 1000 ewes.

“There are still a lot of ewes in the wrong place. Movements are happening, but it is very time consuming,” says Mr Pile.

Suffolk cross Mule ewes are making 40-50/head, with mule thieves trading about the same mark.


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