Trade Talk - Bryan Robinson

6th June 2014

The early part of the Spring lamb season can often be a bit like the curates egg and this year is no different. Meat is invariably what the buyers are demanding and the only real way to consistently produce this in May is with the assistance of additional feed. This week's sale saw 25% more lamb offered in Melton than the same week last year with a SQQ average also up 3.8p/kg. The top price however down 5p/kg on the year. Why? Well two main reasons; the first is that despite fantastic lambing weather the last few weeks have been wet and warm. Lush grass as far as the eye can see but all of it full of water. The best grass is said to be nearest the ground and this has not been what this year's lambs have been offered. The other problem is that fewer people seem inclined to creep feed their lambs this season due to the cost of feed. 5 years ago I advised a customer that the best place to sell his barley was inside some bullocks. With Barley this week at £119 and lamb creep at £360 maybe some home milling is the way forward?

A few February lambs have been coming in recently but there are less people lambing in February around us. All the cost of lambing in December with the returns of lambing in March is how it was summed up to me. Hogg numbers also having a very direct impact on the lamb trade and this year for the first time in several years the main processors are still sourcing old season sheep at the end of May. Trade for these this week is down 2.4p/kg on the same week last year. Although we have been mouthing the hoggs here for some weeks there has not been the difference in trade that has been seen in recent years. Whitehall agree that the issue of erupted incisors is an unnecessary burden on the industry but we are stuck with it until next year at the earliest.

Trade for cull sheep sharply on the rise again. £141 the top call this week. Although the Euro can be held responsible for some of the fluctuations in the lamb and hogg trade the same cannot be said with cull ewes. These are sold entirely for the home market.

If the weather dries up prospects look good for the sheep trade going forward. Having said that in order to fend off the Aussie imports we may need to see the price stabilise and maintain at a consistent level whilst also juggling with the European currency. Sounds simple enough but in order to make your product sought after get some feed into your sheep!

Bryan Robinson
Melton Mowbray Market