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Sheep market cools but prices up on 2019

New season lambs fell by 5 per cent to 249p/kg in the week to May 27 and old season prices were 11 per cent lower at 187p/kg.

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Sheep market cools but prices up on 2019

There was also a downwards trend through the week, with prices slipping towards the 240p/kg mark.

 

Prices however continued to average higher than last year, by 6 per cent for new season stock and 8 per cent for old.

 

In 2019, new season lambs had traded at about 240p/kg in the first half of May before sliding towards 230p/kg in the second half.

 

Iain Macdonald, senior economics analyst, Quality Meat Scotland, said: “As a result of Ramadan coming to an end, processors were looking to secure additional supplies in the period leading up to it, providing a boost to market prices in mid-May.

 

“A clear demonstration of the impact on sheepmeat demand from the festival comes from the market being able to absorb increases in the combined total of new and old season lambs of 29 per cent on the week and 34 per cent on the year.”

 

At Scottish auctions, the strength of demand in the week to May 20 saw auction prices for new season lambs edge higher to average 262p/kg, which was a 13 per cent increase on the same week of 2019.

 

Meanwhile, old season lamb prices were 12 per cent higher than last year, averaging 210p/kg.

Cull ewe prices were also affected in mid-May, although they appear to have taken an earlier lift than prime sheep prices, jumping back above £80 a head in the week to May 13th despite a rise in marketings.

 

A more significant lift in sales in the following week then saw prices dip back towards £70.


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According to Mr Macdonald, now that the peak in demand has passed, the market has rebalanced in line with a traditional seasonal pattern.

 

Focusing on 2020-born lambs, they accounted for two-thirds of prime sheep marketings at GB auctions in the week to May 27.

 

A weakening of sterling is likely to have helped support export competitiveness, with one euro now buying about 89-90p, compared to 87-88p from early April to mid-May.

 

On the import side, while imports from New Zealand picked up in March as product was diverted from China due to logistical issues there in February, Beef and Lamb NZ has since reported renewed declines in shipments to Europe.

 

Colin Slessor, deputy head of Livestock at Aberdeen and Northern Marts said: "The prime sheep market has been good.

 

"We sold 402 new season lambs on Thursday (May 28) to average 233.8p/kg which was down on the week but only by 7p/kg. Lambs meeting SQQ specification averaged 241 p/kg and the overall sale average was £103.52.

 

“At Thainstone we specialise in late season hoggs but these are almost at end now. We had 414 forward and they were selling either side of £100 per head. Good lean ewes are still selling well but anything that is over-fat is not so good.”

Paul Ashton, head sheep auctioneer at Sedgemoor, said: "The lamb trade has been pretty decent with plenty available.
"There was however a bit of resistance creeping in on (Monday) on lighter lambs. Buyers were looking for slightly heavier lambs carrying more cover.
"The grass situation is really the big issue here following a long period with no rain. It is making some of the lambs look a bit stale.

 

"We have had decent numbers of ewes with trade generally easing over the last six or seven weeks. Ewes that were worth £200 at the peak are worth about half that now."
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