Biggest sheep yarding since 1970s

20,000 sheep sold

GERALD PIDDOCK
Last updated 05:00 31/01/2013
Temuka Saleyards
MYTCHALL BRANSGROVE/Fairfax NZ
BIG YARDING: Farmers inspect sheep at the two-tooth and ewe lamb fair at the Temuka Saleyards.

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The numbers were up but the prices were well down at the annual Temuka two-tooth and ewe lamb fair yesterday.

The saleyards were stretched to capacity by the largest yarding of sheep seen since the 1970s, though prices were $100 down on a year ago.

Some 20,000 animals went under the hammer at the annual fair.

"It's been a long time since we have had a yarding of this size," PGG Wrightson South Canterbury livestock manager Joe Higgins said.

The sale almost had a full clearance, with only a couple of pens of sheep being passed in near the end of the sale.

"We were all pretty happy at the end of the day. We sold 20,000 sheep and very few went home."

Peel Forest farmer Bruce McDonald had the top price at the sale for the second year in a row. Two pens of his border romney ewes made $180 each, though this was a big drop from the $300 he received last year.

"It's a reality check," he said.

The best of the ewes made $150 to $170, the second cut of ewes sold for $135 to $150 and smaller, lighter ewes made $120 to $132.

Although prices were well down on last year's sale, Mr Higgins was pleased that values consistently held up throughout the sale for such a large yarding. "To average that sort of price was above our vendors' and our expectations. We're all quite happy how it ended up," he said.

But the fall in prices was largely expected because of the drop in sheep prices this season.

Waitohi farmer David Curtis was reasonably happy with receiving $172 for his sheep. "It's OK. You obviously want to receive a bit more. It's a buyers' market."

Former PPCS (now Silver Fern Farms) chairman Reese Hart said there were some very high quality sheep at the sale and it was depressing that farmers were not being rewarded with better prices for their stock. However, farmers could not afford to pay more for the sheep. "More people are exiting the industry and we need these people to hang in there and stick around."

The larger-than-usual numbers were due to 3000 capital stock two-tooth ewes being included in the sale. Many farmers had also bought ewe lambs last year and retained them to sell at yesterday's sale.

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- The Timaru Herald

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