Analyst Intel

19 July 2019

Dry pasture affects ewe prices

ByAlan WilliamsAlan Williams

DRY on-farm conditions in some areas and a big yarding of stock led to a soft sale of in-lamb ewes at Temuka on Wednesday.

About 9500 ewes were up for sale compared with the normal number of about 3500 to 4000 expected at this time of year, PGG Wrightson agent Rod Sands said. 

Capital stock added to the tally and the number of five- and six-shear annual draft ewes was higher than previously.

Nearly 2000 capital stock ewes yarded sold well with younger ewes fetching up to $240 each but that trade affected the annual draft ewes.

A pen of 113 good quality, younger, in-lamb Romney ewes made $224 a head but generally that part of the sale topped out at $200, with a lot of sales above $180 for ewes with good condition and teeth. 

“The market was a bit subdued, not getting the value we expected though there was a total clearance,” Sands said. 

A lot of medium to lighter animals were yarded among the annual drafts and they struggled to reach high bids. 

“Feed-wise in parts of Canterbury and North Otago there’s been little rain and farmers are cautious about getting more stock in. 

“There has been very good feed utilisation, including from winter feed crops but rain is needed now.”

The main market support was from central and north Canterbury buyers with other stock going as far north as Nelson, good numbers to central Otago and some into Southland. 

Younger ewes would have made better prices in January and February, Sands said.

Across the ewes offered the in-lamb scanning rate was good, with the capital stock sold scanning at about 180%.

Some of the capital stock ewes had excellent genetics and were in outstanding condition but the market for them was okay, not extraordinary, he said.

Jasama Farm at Mt Hutt had nearly 2000 Coopworth capital ewes, in-lamb to Coopworth or Southdown rams, in the market because of a change in farming policy. 

Selling agent John Harrison, of Peter Walsh and Associates, said there was good positivity in the bidding for them. 

About half the ewes were one or two-shear stock and they sold for $215 to $240.

“They were in heavy, forward condition with lambing scan at 183% and we had a good gallery of buyers. 

“They were good capital stock with good genetics.”

Retiring Mid Canterbury farmers Keith and Betty Grice sold nearly 1000 capital stock Romney ewes, mainly mixed age, for more than $200 a head.