North Country Cheviot breeders from the north of Scotland were celebrating last night after achieving much-needed price increases for store and ewe lambs.
The strong start to the season continued at Lairg yesterday when United Auctions put 15,648 lambs through the ring.
Prices were up on the year with 11,454 wethers selling to average £54.43 (+£2.57) and 4,194 ewe lambs selling to average £70.79 (+£0.95).
The top-priced lots both came from Alan McKay, of South Balkeith, who sold wethers to a top of £68 and ewes to a top of £145.
Among the bunch of happy sellers was Sir John Nutting from the 27,000-acre Achentoul Estate, which runs 1,400 breeding ewes and 70 suckler cows.
Sir John sold 1,119 lambs, of which 702 were wethers, to an average of £6 more per head than last year.
Wether lambs were up on average £3.50 on the year, while his top draw ewe lambs were up £23 on the year to £95.
He paid tribute to his shepherds Stewart Henderson and Tommy Cowie and said the quality and quantity of lambs forward were testament to their hard work.
Regular seller Joyce Campbell, of Armadale, who currently holds the Scotch Sheep Farm of the Year title, put 701 lambs through the ring, of which 227 were ewe lambs.
She said she was “absolutely delighted” when her top draw of wethers sold to £66.50, which is up £8 on last year, and her best ewes sold for £102, which is up £22 on previously.
Meanwhile, Inverbrora farmer Malcolm McCall sold 396 lots, with his wethers up £5 on last year and his ewes up around £18 a head. He said: “The prices were brilliant and above expectations. The lambs are looking very good considering the year we have had. We have had rain every day for the past two months.”
The buyers included regular faces from Aberdeenshire, the south of Scotland, Wales and England, as well as new faces buying for farmers as far south as Devon and Somerset.
North Wales buyer John Roberts said the lambs were “looking really well”, while National Sheep Association Scotland development manager George Milne said ewe lamb prices were well up on last year.
Mr Milne, who was buying both wethers and ewes, said it was encouraging to see the price rises and said the £10-£15 increase in fat lamb prices since the Brexit vote had helped build confidence in the market.