By FWi staff
PROFIT is something that sheep farmers can hardly remember. Its something they used to have and must now get back, according to David Raine of the National Sheep Association.
Speaking at the Royal Smithfield Club winter fair at Lichfield, Staffordshire, yesterday (Thursday), Mr Raine said the prospect for producers was looking better for the start of next year.
A good growing season and determination by producers to market has led to 1 million more sheep sold this year than at the same time in 1998, said Mr Raine.
Exports are 15% ahead of the same time last year and live lamb shipments 85% ahead.
“With more (lambs) sold this could lead to a tightening of the market.”
For producers to improve returns Mr Raine believes they must maintain whatever outlet they have and keep quality and consistency.
“Emphasis on quality is paramount – without it theres no future.”
At markets this week, store lambs were clinging to the rise in finished prices, edging up week-by-week.
Driving the rise is increased confidence in the prospects for finished stores. That is founded on the strong export trade, according to auctioneers.
MLC data states that all but one major EU export destinations has taken more British lamb this season (May-October). Only Germany has seen volume fall by 1%.
Overseas trade has lifted confidence and some marts are recording the strongest demand experienced for many weeks.
At United Auctions Fort William mart an entry of 750 lambs saw Suffolks top the bill at £26.80 each, Blackface to £22 and Cheviots to £21 a piece.
A bigger entry of 1532 lambs at St Boswells averaged £27.07 a head, reported John Swan and Son.
In the east, auctioneer Peter Crichton also welcomes the improvement. Stores at Hill Farm Sheep are changing hands at over £20 each with better sorts to £24.25 for better Continental breeds.