Trade Talk - Stephen Dodsworth, Fieldsperson, Darlington Farmers Auction Mart
4th September 2020
The dreaded Coronavirus remains the top topic of conversation and needless to say the ‘live auctions’ are not exempt from the challenges so many industries have faced. Sincere praise should be passed on to Chris Dodds and the LAA for helping to keep us open; back in March the major deadweight players were no doubt salivating at the prospect of another FMD scenario unfolding.
Every cloud has a silver lining and undoubtedly during COVID-19 witnessing the Great British public troop back to their local butcher has been a pleasure to see, the resulting boom in the red meat trade has proved to be a real ‘tonic’ for our faithful farming fraternity.
The remarkable returns for new season lambs have broken records across the country, not so much the top prices but the longevity of the demand we are seeing is unprecedented. Prime lamb trade has defiantly held itself £10-£15 head higher than most could have expected for months now, the better fed and better bred fat lambs continue to sell well and with sheep farmers seemingly not short of grass or brass the store ring in Darlington is flying.
An interesting shift in prime lamb buyers requirements is becoming more noticeable, tighter skins are more popular than ever. This demand is possibly changing the shape of lowland prime lamb production systems. The once indestructible and untouchable Mule ewe remains the number one choice for many, but she now fits their practice as the grandmother of the finished article. A sharp rise in producers using traditional breeds such as the Suffolk and North Country Cheviot over the Mule to breed replacements is becoming ever more popular, the next generation back to a terminal sire is certainly ticking all the boxes for the wholesale and retail butchers.