The mood was generally good at UK auction marts but the October 31 deadline was in the back of buyers and sellers minds.
Buyers and sellers were feeling more optimistic at UK sheep marts, but the end of October deadline for Brexit was playing on people’s minds.
At Sedgemoor mart, auctioneer Paul Ashton said there had been a dramatic turnaround in the prime lamb market, with buyers previously looking for lambs below 41kg.
“Six weeks ago they were looking for 36-38kg lambs, 41kg and above nobody wanted. Now, nobody wants anything less than 41kg,” he said.
He added buyers were looking for lambs with ’plenty of flesh and fat cover’.
Jonathan Evans, auctioneer at Welshpool, said the lamb trade had been a little sharper.
“In general, everything was sharper and cull ewes were dearer, especially the big ewes,” he said.
Skipton auctioneer Ted Ogden said there was good demand for prime lambs.
“The story seems to be lambs need plenty of cover on them,” he added.
For store lambs, they were anticipating a ‘nice trade’ trade as people were looking for something to graze with plenty of grass about.
But Mr Ashton added everyone was still ‘very nervous’ about Brexit.
“The sheep market would be a bit more optimistic at the moment than the cattle job though, there is a lot of pessimism there,” he said.
“More people are looking at switching to sheep again rather than the cattle side.”
In their breeding sheep sales, Mr Ashton highlighted older ewes had been in demand although there had not been large numbers coming forward.
“Quite a few farmers said they had had abortion issues in their younger ewes so they were looking at buying older ewes.”
It was expected that sheep markets will be able to find some support from the run up to the Eid-al-Adha festival, which will begin about August 11.
Processors will be sourcing sheep two or three weeks before the festival, looking for animals born before February 11, according to AHDB.
During the Islamic festival, Muslims were encouraged to follow the Prophet Abraham and have an animal slaughtered as an offering to God.
Rebecca Obourne, red meat analyst at AHDB, said this can cause a ‘spike’ in demand for lambs aged six months or older which are fit, healthy and lean.
“Therefore, a pick-up in demand for lamb meeting these specifications is expected. There is often a small up-lift in prices for lambs meeting the requirements of Qurbani.”
She added there was also a pickup in consumer demand for all halal meet, including beef and lamb.