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Tis the Season of the Year

Wed 22 May 2019

Spring lambs have performed really well with the weather (the main factor) being kind - you can watch lambs grow with the sun on their backs and that fact has brought numbers out, certainly earlier than last year. Hoggets are still being marketed in comparatively strong numbers with many finishers waiting in anticipation for a final lift before abattoirs switch to spring lambs. Both of those facts unfortunately have an adverse reaction. Spring lamb prices although good (not in the same league of last year and were never likely to be) are still hampered by strong numbers of hoggets, many hoggets are coming out at heavier weights, i.e. 53kg PLUS which apart from some small specialist outlets are really surplus.

As one abattoir told me recently (not for the first time) “We want what we want” – “if you buy a suit do you buy one that fits or 3 sizes bigger” – Yes, ok I get the point!! That said they do have a point – it’s worth sitting down with a calculator and working out the costs and returns, an interesting if not somewhat frightening exercise.

Usually when abattoirs switch onto spring lambs the price firms due to supply and demand, however with numbers coming thick and fast one may cancel the other – WATCH THIS SPACE!

Store cattle prices have also taken a welcome lift over the last two months – even more surprising if you study the deadweight returns being reduced almost on a weekly basis from January onwards.

The winter fodder (and straw) supplies were, with the gift of hindsight not as tight in this area as many were forecasting – thank an open winter for that. Once the “light at the end of the tunnel” shone brighter, confidence grew and when numbers increased the “train was back on its rails”

Future numbers of store cattle will be challenging (or plain b***** difficult) Suckler cow numbers are reducing everywhere and with less beef crosses coming from the dairy sector future years across the country will need some thought and planning – fewer sales with bigger numbers may prove to be beneficial – food for thought!

As far as “singing and dancing” is concerned I would give a massive 10/10 to anyone in the livestock sector for shear grit, effort and determination – Long may it last.

Clive C Roads FLAA
Chairman – Worcester Market
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