The Livestock Auctioneers' Association Limited (LAA)

Trade Talk - Russell Steer - Kivells - Exeter Livestock Centre

15th November 2021

Heading into the unknown

Since my last piece for the Farmers Weekly’s trade talk back in July where I asked if the current price trends were the new normal, it would appear this new normal is very hard to follow, particularly in sheep marketing!

Almost two years since the bar was set at an unprecedentedly high level, here we are in November seeing sheep prices more akin to April than this early part of the winter. Our store lambs averaged £97.50 for 2329 of them here at Exeter last Friday, an improvement of £8 on the week, £20 on the year or £34 on two years ago.

Many delighted vendors on Friday asking the question “how will they make them pay?” a question which was answered on Monday when our prime lambs averaged 278ppk or £123.95 per head all in, with the over 45kgs averaging £131.

But why are prices so high?

In previous years when the jobs been on the floor we’ve always been told “its supply and demand”. Well if it’s that simple then I would cautiously hazard a guess that there is no big glut of lambs to come as the price has been good all year and pulled them through the system already, despite AHDB reporting sheep and lamb slaughtering numbers back on the year, but were they ever there to start with as more and more people get out of the hard work of lambing sheep in favour of running dry ewe lambs or fattening stores.

Regardless of your thoughts on supply, we can all agree that demand is high, on a local, national and global scale, as my social media feed, like many of yours I’m sure, is full of videos and live streams of auctions not only in this country but across the pond and down under as well. And the common theme in all of this is that it will be the livestock auctioning system that will continue to drive prices to unprecedented levels.