Analyst Intel

19 February 2021

ACROSS THE RAILS | Ewe fair season reaches Otago

Over the past few weeks ewe fairs have gradually made their way down the country, and the Balclutha sale yards played host to two fairs this season – a two-tooth fair held on Friday, February 5, and aged ewes the following Friday.

Past years have seen three fairs held as a special Perendale-only event was justified, but a decline in entries meant that extra sale was not required. A total of nearly 7900 two-tooth ewes were offered on the first day and Rural Livestock agent Mark Sheppard reported that was a typical sized yarding.

“That was a standard sized fair for the younger sheep and included some capital stock, though most were offered by regular vendors. Around half were homebred and the balance brought in as lambs to target this fair,” Sheppard said.

Ewes travelled in from Hindon and south of Owaka, with entries from Gore also included. The promise of quality ewes drew in regular buyers from Banks Peninsula, South Otago and Southland, and Sheppard says there was plenty of confidence on the rails.

“Buyers are confident about the sheep job. New water regulations are making it harder to farm cattle and trading lambs are getting more difficult to find, so it is perceived that buying ewes is a viable alternative,” he said.

Two-tooth prices were firm on last year, and the top Romney ewes achieved $240-$254. Medium Romney sold for $220-$230 and third cuts for $180-$210. Romney-Texel reached $230-$245, and good Coopdale from a regular vendor came close to topping the fair at $252. Eight pens of Perendale tended to be harder to move and the top pen made $220, and second cut $190.

The aged ewe fair was a quieter event as around 4000 were entered, and that size sale did not attract a large buying bench in. However, all lines were purchased as replacements and two-shear Romney reached $222 and Composites sold for $160-$170. Three-shear and four-shear Composites traded at $145-$160, and most annual draft ewes earned $140-$154. The top five-year ewes reached $188.

The ewe fair season winds up in Otago and Southland over the next few weeks – both in the sale yards and on-farm – but buyers will have the opportunity to start purchasing in-lamb ewes in the North Island from May.