Bumper trade as Shearwell Thame Summer Sheep Sale kickstarts breeding sales season
14th August 2020
Traditionally marking the start of the annual autumn breeding sales season, with the first substantial breeding sale in the country, the 18th Shearwell Thame Summer Sheep Sale did not disappoint despite Covid-19 restrictions, with dearer trade reported in all sections.
A highlight for both buyers and sellers of breeding sheep, this year the sale was extended over three days to allow for social distancing requirements, and only ewes, shearlings and ewe lambs were sold, with ram lambs and store lambs held back for a later sale from within Thame Market.
Despite this, 18,985 head of breeding sheep were listed, and trade was quoted as dearer in all sections, by at least £14.00 per head, with some breeds considerably up. Beltex and Beltex x were a flying trade with pen after pen topping the £200.00 mark, selling to £295.00 for shearlings and ewes. Averages were up £31.62.
NC Mules topped at £182.00, averaging £138.27, which was up £16.27. It was a similar picture with Suffolk x and Texel x, topping at £198.00 and £260.00 respectively, seeing averages up by £15.00 and £29.83.
Cheviot and Cheviot mules topped at £188.00 to average £159.00, with Lleyn sold to £150.00 with an average up £14.05. Scotch Half Bred topped at £170.00, Suffolk Ewe lambs at £102.00 and Beltex ewe lambs at £142.00, to an average £98.81.
“The sheep trade has been marvellous, with lots of shearlings sold and a strong trade,” says Thame Farmers Auction Mart auctioneer Simon Draper, who led the sales alongside colleague Thomas Hiorns and Greg MacDougall who was drafted in from Bentham Mart to assist.
“We implemented a number of procedures to ensure the public health of those in attendance. This included pre-registration, with limited numbers able to attend the 26-acre site. We removed the usual grandstand, along with the catering and office marquee, and provided hand sanitiser points throughout the site,” he adds.
The procedures were put in place following close liaison with APHA, the Livestock Auctioneers Association (LAA) and Defra, along with the local trading standards office in order to obtain the Health and Safety licence to stage the sale.
“The trading standards animal welfare officer and the Covid-19 officer went through our risk assessment and visited the site so we could walk them through the procedures,” continues Mr Draper. “We were grateful to get the green-light, with the Covid-19 officer actually even attending during the sales days to ensure social distancing was maintained. This ultimately led to three days of marvellous trade.”
Chris Dodds, executive secretary of the LAA adds, “The Thame Sheep Sale heralds the start of the breeding sales season, with the first substantial sale in the country. We were delighted that Thame Farmers Auction Mart were able to stage the event, despite the uncertainties and challenges that the pandemic has brought.
“That we have seen such tremendous trade and averages up, is testament to the strength of the live sales ring to drive prices. We must also recognise the efforts of all the buyers and vendors in following the guidelines and adhering to the social distancing requirements, and of course of the Thame staff in managing the event.”
Mr Dodds concludes, “This sets the benchmark for what promises to be a busy backend sales season, with demand high in both breeding sheep and breeding cattle categories. The key of course, will be for all to follow the safety guidelines for the sales to go ahead and be a success.”