The autumn sheep trade is off to a positive start with prices up on the year, says Aberdeen & Northern Marts.
The company’s deputy head of livestock, Colin Slessor, said: “The industry is doing well and prices are up ahead of last year which is very pleasing.
“Sheep trade at Thainstone and Caithness has been satisfactory, and the improved weather has certainly helped all sectors of the industry.”
He said prime sheep prices were ahead of last year, with averages between £1.65 and £1.70 per kg liveweight, and heavier lambs of 45kg or more achieving prices over £80 per head. Cull ewe trade has also been strong, and Mr Slessor said top-end pure Suffolk and pure continental ewes were regularly selling for £110-120 per head.
Likewise, prices for good quality store lambs are also up on the year – one Shetland farmer recently sold 250 Suffolk cross lambs for an average of £61.62 per head.
“Our weekly sales of all categories of sheep ensure a regular and strong selection of stock for buyers,” added Mr Slessor.
“The auction system is leading the way and continues to benefit buyers and sellers in achieving the true market value of their stock.”
He said the company’s first ewe lamb sale of the season resulted in sound demand for strong tupping lambs, which achieved between £100 and £120 a head, while smaller, longer-keeping gimmering lambs sold for between £80 and £100 a head. “Longer-keep lambs have yet to find their true value as farmers finish harvest and start planning beyond the uncertainties of Brexit and rising costs of feed,” added Mr Slessor.
He said gimmer trade was two-tiered with the best Mule gimmers achieving a very good trade and averaging £150 a head, but trade was more selective for the next level of gimmers.
“However, trade may improve in October as some of the tail-end ewe hogs were culled in the spring when the prime trade was flying,” added Mr Slessor.