Higher prices threaten lamb supply

By Rose Harding

PGG Wrightson agent and auctioneer Neil Common says higher ewe prices might lead to a shortage of ewes for the annual ewe fairs in January.
PGG Wrightson agent and auctioneer Neil Common says higher ewe prices might lead to a shortage of ewes for the annual ewe fairs in January.

The influence of China in the market continued to be apparent in the price of prime ewes at Stortford Lodge during November.

The price of cull ewes is about $30 or $40 above this time last year, largely due to the return of China to the mutton market after an absence of some years.

PGG Wrightson agent and auctioneer Neil Common said the higher ewe prices might lead to a shortage of ewes for the annual ewe fairs in January.

"With the price they can get for their 5-year-old ewes now, they might decide to cash in now rather than do the extra preparation needed for a fair."

It could also mean good news for farmers with younger ewes to sell as more older ewes are culled and replaced with two-tooths.

The strong tone of October continued into November although the shortage of works space caused prices to ease all round.

Prime lambs continued to be strong on smaller yardings than usual for this time of year. Mr Common said a lack of sunshine and heat mean lambs were taking longer to finish to good weights.

"With the price they can get for their 5-year-old ewes now, they might decide to cash in now rather than do the extra preparation needed for a fair."

"This could mean a bulge of numbers in the autumn."

A good lambing result in Hawke's Bay means there are plenty of spring lambs around.

However, many of them are medium lambs, the type that proved a harder sell during the month.

It is beginning to dry out around Hawke's Bay and although there is plenty of feed for cattle, lamb feed is becoming short. The lack of rain also means crops put in to finish lambs are slower to grow. Subsequently, the prices for medium spring lambs dropped about $20 a head from its high of $115 to $120.

The prime cattle market the month began with traditional-breed cattle regularly breaking the $3/kg mark. This eased later in the month but was still good enough to keep the supply coming. A feature of this spring has been the outstanding quality of most of the cattle on offer with many pens topping 600kg.

Another feature has been the number of cull cows at the prime sales. They have done particularly well, reaching above the $2.30/kg mark.

Store cattle arrived in good numbers and met solid demand. Two-year-old bulls sold well but again, longer-term stock was harder to sell although yearling heifers made good money.

Mr Common said anyone with feed had a good opportunity to buy short-term stock, sheep or cattle, and make a healthy profit in the autumn.

He said that overall farmers were in good heart. A lower dollar has certainly helped markets and prices look set remain good.

"Morale is pretty good but, as always, there is the perennial Hawke's Bay concern about rain."

- Hawkes Bay Today

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