Analyst Intel

18 October 2019

ACROSS THE RAILS | Seemingly impossible prices for new season lambs

By Suz Bremner Suz Bremner

While it has been a wet and miserable week in Hawke’s Bay there will be very few farmers complaining about it with the timing perfect for most. Grass markets are now kicking in on cattle but the real talking point was the seemingly impossible levels store lambs found themselves at last Wednesday at Stortford Lodge. Anyone with an interest in store lambs would have been keen to know how these first lambs fared, with the only lambs to be offered previously being 260 at Feilding.

The consignment was close to 1400 Southdown-cross mixed-sex and while it was pouring down at the sale and the lambs were soaked the strength of their Southdown frames showed through. They sold in five cuts and buyers from Taupo, Hawke’s Bay and Manawatu had all made the trip to try to secure some of them. I’ve followed the sales for a few years and I have never seen lambs hit $165 so early in the season but that was exactly where the first pen finished. The top two pens were about 30kg LW and made $157.50-$165 while the balance sold for $131-$143.50, leaving many seasoned buyers shaking their heads in disbelief. The second and third cuts were secured by a buyer from Taupo, who bought the lambs last year and was so pleased with them that he was first on the rails this year.

The big question on everyone’s lips is are these prices a one-off, reflecting a bit of excitement the lambs are finally arriving? History does suggest these early lambs always make a premium and looking back over AgriHQ records to 2015 that has been a very clear pattern, with more realistic levels relative to schedule settled at as the season progresses. So, before anyone gets too excited it is likely prices will not be sustained but it sure is a great start to the season – the best seen in fact. The real flow of new season lambs does not kick in until November but perhaps there are now a few more farmers looking out the window contemplating the possibility of selling store.