Livestock vendors should ensure lambs go into correct categories

2nd October 2012

Sheep farmers should make sure their lambs are entered into the correct categories to get maximum returns at livestock markets, the Livestock Auctioneers Association has advised.

The wet summer has meant that in some parts of the country lambs have been late to reach prime condition, but vendors should be aware that the marts will take all categories and weights of sheep.

"Markets throughout the country have buyers who attend on a regular basis for all breeds, condition and weight of sheep, so vendors can be assured that they will continue to get the true market value for all their stock," said Chris Dodds, Executive Secretary of the Livestock Auctioneers Association.

"Although market buyers can accommodate all categories, vendors are advised to make every effort to ensure that the right animals are sold in the right category. Prime lambs should be sold in the prime ring and store lambs in the store ring. Having out of "spec", or under-finished animals in the prime ring is not particularly good for the industry and at times can make it difficult to achieve optimum values.

"The auctioneer is on hand and will willingly advise and recommend which categories are suitable and will help vendors divide their stock into appropriate lots," he said.

Annabelle Morshead of Nilston Rigg Farms, Haydon Bridge, Northumberland, said lambs were late in her part of the country because of weather conditions over the summer.

"I don't think we have had a dry ten days since April, which has affected the grass quality in this part of England. I usually sell between 1,200 and 1,400 fat lambs, but I've sold half of what I do in a normal year," she said.

She said that with feed prices high and expected to rise still further, the question for farmers is whether to sell in the store market or keep them to feed.

"Although the price of fat lambs is not as high as it has been, it is better than I would have expected. Lambs have not been coming onto the market because of the late finishing and this had kept the lamb price buoyant," she said.

Mr Dodds said: "Livestock markets are renowned for setting national trends and therefore achieving a true market value for all weights. It is certainly the time of year to be watching and looking at weights."