Yards around the North Island are resonating with the sound of new season lambs as the ewes with lambs-at-foot market gains momentum. Over the years it is a market that has grown in popularity for sellers, going from one that was there out of necessity to a popular outlet. While the hard work of lambing must be done beforehand it has proved over the years to be a lucrative market and one that some specifically target. For many buyers the fact the lambing beat is done and they can see exactly what they are getting is attractive. It is also the only way to secure new season lamb numbers early in the season and while they look young now, those being sold will be the first to finish.
This market sits between the scanned-in-lamb and the weaned markets and is always interesting to see if it comes out trumps over both of them. This year so far has been stronger than the scanned-in-lamb market though, if the strength of the weaned lamb and cull ewe markets continues, then prices should come out fairly evenly matched.
The market in the North Island has started strong with prices $5 up on last year. Medium to good commercial Romney ewes with multiple terminal lambs that are not docked but are a few weeks old have made $128-$134 all counted while lighter ewes with multiple lambs have also sold well at $110-$120. Essentially, that means a package deal of a ewe with two lambs has made a total of $330-$402. In 2010 the same type of ewes and lambs were selling for $55-$78 all counted though the increase in price is very much in line with improvements across all classes of sheep from cull ewes to lambs.