The Livestock Auctioneers' Association Limited (LAA)

Trade Talk from Harvey Pile, Auctioneer and Valuer, Stags

26th October 2018

Autumn Influencers

Reflecting on a challenging autumn, selling breeding and store stock of both cattle and sheep, I note we are fortunate at Stags to be the operators in traditional markets. Year after year, our purchasers and vendors seek to source or sell next year’s breeding or store stock, helping to underpin a difficult market.

The highs of the hogget and lamb trade seen in the spring months suggested breeding and store sheep vendors would be rewarded for their hard work, but regrettably a perfect storm of factors seems to have for the most part kept the rewards modest.

The extraordinarily long and dry summer months have left fodder uncertainties for many across the country, affecting both cattle and sheep prospects. Many sheep graziers are uncertain of how much winter keep will be available, as dairy farmers utilise every blade of grass they can.

Root crops have also been affected, with many deterred from planting during the dry months and some crops failing. Locally, in Devon at least, it does seem that a high number of crops are now established, and flourishing with the mild, damp weather.

Dare I say the word? Brexit! Too many questions have led to conservative buying by many purchasers. I think it likely the purchasing of stock, and management of stocks in freezers, by large processors and abattoirs will become even more stringent as ‘deadline day’ approaches. Few will run the risk of having freezers full when their outlets could be dramatically influenced overnight.

On a more positive note, if a deal is done I believe those who have been brave and persevered with the breeding or finishing of both sheep and cattle could reap the rewards. But like many a casino game, it’s a roll of the dice.