Trade Talk with Chris Armstrong, Hexham & Northern Marts

13th November 2020

With considerable investment in safety measures and sale ring infrastructure, buyers and sellers can be reassured that the auction system continues to be the best method by which to market all classes of livestock.

Despite fears over the fall-out from Brexit and the prospect of imports of US beef, trade for primestock has been buoyant throughout, lambs in particular remaining at 200ppkg plus for most of the summer, and still at levels 20-30p up on 2019 figures. 

Store cattle and lambs have also enjoyed a considerable lift in trade, with many reporting rises of £100-£150 per head for cattle during the traditional ‘back-end’ sales season. 

One delighted vendor reported a lift of £222 on average for 23 March born calves, selling steers to £1095 and heifers to a whopping £1120. The best end of shapely continental cross lambs sold through the store ring have regularly topped at £120-£130 and over, often for either sought after breeding lambs, and more recently those wedder lambs which will fulfil high street butcher requirements.

Autumn breeding sheep sales have also benefitted from largely unexpected confidence. The North of England Mule remains the bedrock of the UK flock with our top ewe lamb producers reporting rises of £20-£30 per head on the year with the best runs topping in excess of £150 to average £130-£135. 

Gimmer shearlings have been a nice trade, as have several flocks dispersed during the season.  Our sales of horned sheep – the Blackies and Swales are favoured in our region – have also seen renewed demand.  Blackface gimmers were a flyer in early October, many rising £40-60 on the year and averaging from £160-£200 for the best lots. Draft ewes, in need of rehoming on lower pastures, lifted from £8-£13 on average for Blackface and Swaledales respectively.    

With expert guidance from the LAA, we at Hexham & Northern Marts, alongside our colleagues within the industry, are committed to maintaining a safe and compliant auction system that remains an essential facet of the food supply chain.  We thank all our customers for their support during this difficult year and hope that all involved in the livestock sector stay safe during the winter.