Store lambs in the doldrums
STORE lambs in Scotland are still making half the money of this time last year.
"The reason is simple enough – finished lambs are refusing to rise above the 60p/kg mark," says Aberdeen and Northern Marts auctioneer Philip Reid.
"The finished price is 35p down on the year. Multiply that by 40kg and you have £14 which is almost exactly the drop for stores.
"The drop is more than that because by early December last year all the quality lambs had been sold. This time, people have been hanging on hoping the price would rise. But there could be a modest increase for quality prime lambs in the next month or so. They are scarce because people cant afford to feed them at 60p/kg," he adds.
There is also the thought that the light lamb trade may have taken out more than official estimates and that the current overhang of supplies may be short lived.
"I said in September that the trade had bottomed and I have been proved wrong," says Stirling auctioneer Alan Watson. "But I really think it has now. Things cant get worse. If prices continue at this level for much longer there will be no buyers at all within two years," he said
Stirling prices for last week, with 1997 figures in brackets, were: Suffolk crosses £17.50 (£30.45), cross £13.25 (£30.10) and Blackface £10.30 (£24.05).
And at Castle Douglas on Monday, the store lamb average was £10.45 compared with £24.25 at the corresponding sale last year. *