Analyst Intel

16 July 2021

ACROSS THE RAILS | Store lamb market riding high

Sale yards were jam-packed with sheep over the past two weeks as sellers looked to take advantage of the strong prices at auction for both store and prime stock. During the week of July 5-July 9, nearly 62,000 sheep passed through the main yards covered by LivestockEye reports, a level that trumped the previous weekly record for sheep sold in July, set in 2019, by over 8000 head.

A yarding of 20,000 store lambs at Feilding isn’t unusual earlier in the season, but in mid-winter lambs are that much bigger and this forced the liberal use of overflow pens at the July 9 sale, to meet the logistical challenges. 

There was little respite for yard staff, as the following Monday nearly 10,000 lambs and ewes were presented for the prime sale. This made for the busiest Friday-Monday sale pairing at this venue since April 2017, and a level exceeded only five times in the past 10 years. Over the same time period at Stortford Lodge, the second and third highest ever weekly tallies were reported, beaten only by one post-lockdown week in June 2020.

The store lamb market has been riding high over the past few weeks and some of the increase in volume was attributed to the recycling of store lambs through the heated market. While this has come off the boil the past few weeks, the margin between lambs purchased earlier in the season and current levels may see this higher than usual throughput continue later into July. 

Strong competition from the rails for finished lambs and ewes has only encouraged more vendors to send them to market via the sale yard route and the good entries  for these classes are likely to continue in the short-term, particularly as scanning pushes ewes into the market in many areas of the country. 

William Hickson