Trade Talk from Alastair Brown of Bletsoes

10th December 2018

It’s that time of year when Christmas Fat stock shows are underway, something that has been going on for generations, showcasing the quality breeding and feeding of many farmers. We have three shows and sales at Bletsoes to include Thrapston, Bedford and Stratford, all within a couple of weeks of each other.

Where we have tried to bring the sales earlier to catch the Christmas trade, seemingly we have now missed it, as processors have already bought for Christmas and are now buying for January! Can you believe that? Entries have been slow this year, with vendors having issues with the increasing Tb problems, along with the lack of enthusiasm, or having the time, to halter break, clip etc. their entries.

Numbers this year are down by 20%, but we are hoping for further entries on the day.

On the sheep side, other reasons include that, having a very good trade early in the season, many of these showy lambs have been sold, perhaps to pay bills but mainly to give the grassland a rest for next year’s breeding sheep, which has added all selling lambs early.

Confidence seems to be at an all-time low, many cattle prices are down in comparison to last year by around £50-£150. But is this because of so much uncertainty in what will happen in next year’s trading with Europe, or is it just the increased costs that farmers are having to consider? Or maybe the lack of quality from the poor grazing summer, therefore the quality isn’t what it was compared to other years?

There has been some confidence in the store lamb section, with more buyers coming to the market looking for lambs to finish for the Hogget season, hoping that they will be similar to last year’s prices. Let’s hope that is the case.