Trade Talk - Russell Steer, Kivells, Exeter Livestock Centre
9th July 2021
I was recently reminded of a conversation I had just over six months ago between Christmas and New Year with a farmer in Exeter market who had just sold over 300 highlander cross store lambs to average £86 and truly thought they were a price beyond belief. Furthermore, after that conversation I returned to the office and before wishing all staff a Happy New Year apologised for not knowing where we were going to find any sheep to sell in the New Year or at what low price they would be. How wrong we both were!
With regards to sheep the past six months has seen truly unprecedentedly high numbers and prices that would have been impossible to predict. In Exeter we have seen an increase of nearly 50% on throughput of prime spring lambs in the first half of this year with 34,828 selling to average an astonishing £131.82. Similarly cull sheep are well up on previous years with 22,472 levelling just over £103 per head.
The question of “is this the new normal?” has been banded around a lot this spring with very few people willing to commit themselves to agree, but I think having seen these prices for a prolonged period time and having just recovered from the seasonal June slump in prime lamb trade that we can cautiously start to gently nod to our heads in agreeance. Breeding sheep sales look to have the perfect storm for the season ahead too, noticeably fewer sheep to go round, a strong appetite for them given their current returns, an abundance of grass and the fact that cattle prices are every bit as strong! Well let’s hope so anyway, with 5531 lined up for Tuesday, anyone looking for breeding sheep should look no further than Exeter on 13th July.
Also, whilst writing I feel it’s only right to congratulate the Devon County Show committee on organising a highly successful show over the past weekend and bringing many people from all across the South West “a little bit of normality”.