The timing of the Maniototo Last Muster Lamb Sale is not set by chance. Most of the locals are keen duck shooters and enjoy a relaxed weekend in their favourite mimis. So, in true Kiwi style, the sale date is dictated by opening weekend, as it is always held on the Tuesday before the big event.
This tradition works well for all and while the day of the sale starts off with talk of lamb markets and prices, by sale end the conversation has very quickly turned to how many ducks are around and who is making the bacon and egg pie. This recipe has proved so successful that in the 12 years of holding the sale, the lamb tallies have grown from 3-4000 to just over 19,000 offered this year.
Over the years, the Waipiata sale yards have been expanded to allow for the extra volume but there was still overflow, and this year 1400 sold on-farm at a neighbouring property as well.
PGG Wrightson Otago regional manager John Duffy says that while the sale being held prior to duck shooting cleared the decks for farmers and created a bit of a lull before rams went out, it was also well-timed for when the buyers wanted the lambs. “Most of the buyers are from Mid Canterbury and the timing of the sale works well for them. We do have a few local buyers, though they were not as strong this year due to the dry conditions,” Duffy said.
He says a sharp change in the weather was also a timely reminder that our hard winters are very close.
Skiffs of sleet, hail and rain did not make for a pleasant selling environment but that had little bearing on the market itself, Duffy says.
“The short-term lambs sold to expectations, but medium to longer-term types exceeded them. This was largely due to buyers focusing on certain vendors and filling trucks, so in some cases there was more competition on the second and third cuts,” he said.
“A lot of hard work has been put into the breeding of the halfbred lambs in particular, and regular buyers know the lambs and how they grow and will return for them each year. The big lines are also an attraction as most have 400-600 head and one line-up to 900 head.”
Twelve vendors offered up halfbred wether and ewe lambs, as well as Romney and blackface-cross lambs. The halfbred were all woolly, which added to their value, while many of the meat-breed lines were shorn, which did the same to theirs. The top halfbred wethers made $108-$131 and second cuts, $95-$107. Top halfbred ewe lambs sold for $90-$124, and the balance of both sold from $78. Top price of the day went to a line of blackface mixed-sex at $147, and woolly Romney ewes sold for $110-$120.