16th September 2015
It seems hard to believe September is upon us and nearly ¾ of this year has gone. Not so long ago we were looking into our crystal ball to see what 2015 had to offer. Now we know, for the livestock and arable producer a fairly dismal year, with the short term outlook not much better.
Through the year prime lambs have been up to £30 per head down and as this is penned, 130p to 140p per kg liveweight is about where we are. The only slight bright spot in the sheep industry is the ewes, which have held firm throughout, with many outlets quoting averages of £70 to £80 per head. The only way to make your lambs come to a respectable price is to put as much weight and finish on them as possible, but do be careful where and how you market them. If you have to sell at around 40kgs or under, if they are lean they could be worth more as stores.
Autumn breeding sheep sales are well underway now and understandably buyers are cautious. We all wondered would the theaves be £5, £10, £20 or £30 per head less on the year. From reports so far £20 seems the mark, although some vendors have faced a bigger drop. The old adage 1½ lambs should buy a theave perhaps is not far wrong, we have seen both the Mules and the Suffolk crosses £100 to £120, some poor sorts £80+ and a few top pens £140 to £150.
The Suffolk cross Mule ewe lambs, in our part of the country have sold well, but with ageing flock masters who want to give up lambing ewes, but keep some runners to sell on as theaves, the competition for these gets stronger, and no doubt it will be similar in the North.
We sell a good number of store cattle throughout the year and despite TB restrictions playing havoc, numbers have been good and prices strong. Many buyers say £100 too much, but they keep coming back for more.
Dairy is a real disaster and our heart goes out to all those working 7 days a week, and all hours, but facing such hardship. The combines are flat out, prices look weak, either side of £100 per ton, but reported yields sound very good. However, most important, we are still here to talk about our woes, and farming continues to be a way of life for most.