Pressure on lamb prices at Feilding

Last updated 17:22 12/04/2013

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An overwhelming entry of nearly 33,000 store lambs two weeks in a row and a dollar lifting to scary heights put too much pressure on sale prices today.

As has become the norm, most of the lamb yarding were showing the effects of the prolonged drought and will require some weeks of care and fresh feed to begin to improve.

The sale actually began on a firm note with the heavier lambs, especially those forward lambs with some condition, attracting the most attention as there is an obvious shortage of fat lambs now and, with schedules firming, these lambs are sought by the buyers.

Consequently, the top price matched last week when Glenray Trust, Ohingaiti, sold 160 male lambs for $80.

Keilawarra Station, Hunterville, sold 190 male lambs for $74.50 with Greg and Rachel Shannon, Tapuae, leading the way in the ewe lamb section selling 421 woolly ewe lambs for $68 - lambs that will offer some options.

Outside of the best lambs, the market became very difficult and a reasonable estimate of the drop in the lamb price for the medium lambs would be at least $5/head.

Without the South Island buying power again this week, the market for the lighter and longer term ewe lambs was a battle.

Feed is growing in some areas but these long term lambs do not stack up as a buyable option compared with the medium lambs at not many dollars more.

A major concern is developing with the hill country bailing out of their ewe lambs being unable to feed them as winter looms.

These lambs may well have received the company of a ram in a more normal year.

This week seemed to be the week for cattle to be unloaded as well and, with the dollar strengthening (and looking likely to continue to do so), pressure was on in the cattle yards as well.

Two days of weaner fairs and a big cattle sale made for a sticky market.

Heifers were especially hard hit with passings and some heifers did appear to be good buying although two pens sold for $930; 7 Hereford/Friesians from Andrew and Louise Scott, Feilding, and 5 Simmental cross heifers from AGM Trust, Palmerston North.

Nearly 200 bulls were offered, the largest bull entry for some time, but these eased under the pressure of the strong exchange rate. 9 big bulls from AGM Trust sold for $1130 ($1.96) but hardly another bull cleared $800.

The steers were reasonably forward in condition but this hardly helped the auctioneers. The older steers continued to struggle, although were steady on last week but the younger steers would have dropped by a $10/head margin at least with none reaching $1,000. Balig Farm, Pahiatua, sold two lines for $935; 22 Angus ($1.91) and 10 Angus/Hereford ($1.91).

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One hundred useful vetted in calf 3-year-old Angus heifers from Erewhon Station sold around the $1,000 mark, as the hills destock, and some light weaners ended the day.

Already, next week's lamb sale entry is building so there will be no respite.

Sheep (33,854): ewes (1,100); 2ths, $51-$76; 5yos, $63-$66; lambs (32,754); 36-38 kg, $70-$80, $1.97-$2.10, steady; 31-35 kg, $49-$70.50, $1.48-$2.09, ease; 26-20 kg, $40-$54, $1.43-$1.89, ease.

- BusinessDay

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