Analyst Intel

6 September 2019

ACROSS THE RAILS | Lambs out the gate as the tractors go in

By Suz Bremner Suz Bremner

This time of year sees a variety of sheep coming forward, in all shapes and sizes. While it is early days for new season lambs there were a handful at Stortford Lodge last Monday, which looked out of place among the monsters that were last year’s lambs.

he sheer size of some of the old-season prime lambs coming forward is a real talking point as the last 12 months have provided excellent conditions for lamb growth and they have certainly made the most of it. The tractors are heading onto cropping land in the North Island and that means the lambs that have been grazing the pastures are out the farm gate. For that reason, early spring is typically busier in the prime pens at the bigger North Island yards and the cancellation of the second Feilding Hogget Fair only amplified volume at the Monday sale. Over the past six weeks 36,700 prime lambs have passed through the Feilding, Stortford Lodge and Matawhero sale yards and while that is slightly below the corresponding period last year, the yardings week-on-week have been more consistent in volume. 

Many vendors are finding some of their lambs are too heavy for the processors and would be penalized so the yards are the best option given there are a few buyers attending who can handle their size. The very tops of these lambs are estimated at 65-75kg LW and are mainly rams and cryptorchids. Processors penalize lambs that are 27kg CW plus so sellers are reluctant to send them directly there. At auction, sale results had these types selling for $200-$205 and while that is still good money in anyone’s books it was a notable drop on recent levels and the lighter, better yielding lines were surpassing that. 

While the really big boys and girls come out on the prime days, the store sales are also offering up some sizable lambs and for AgriHQ weigh crate operators the mission of fitting 48-52kg LW lambs into the weigh crate is wearing thin and we can’t wait to have the new season lambs to deal with.