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Stackyard News Aug 2011

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Positive Outlook for Sheep Sales this Autumn

Many in the industry are eagerly awaiting Harrison and Hetherington’s early breeding sheep sales for the season at Borderway Mart, Carlisle.

On 12th August 1500 pedigree sheep and 2000 breeding ewes mainly Suffolks and Continentals will be presented and as one of the main pedigree sales in the country is regarded as a major benchmark for sheep prices for the autumn season.

Borderway sheep ring

Borderway sheep ring

It is anticipated that the vendors will benefit from the positive surge in prices in the sheep market which started last year and which continues to go from strength to strength. David Pritchard, Operations Director for Harrison and Hetherington Ltd is confident that buyers will find a good range of stock for flock replacements and those sellers can expect good returns.

David sees many reasons for this new level of market buoyancy as he explains:

“With prices somewhat higher than last year in all sheep sectors this must give a positive outlook for this autumn. Prime lamb prices have been running approximately 15% to 20% higher than last year. Cast ewes are also at an all time high.”

David believes this market confidence is based on sound economics. Quoting the Defra census findings of March, he notes that last year the national sheep flock dropped by just 0.9% to 21.3m and the female breeding flock increased by 0.1% to just over 13.9m. DEFRA points out this is a slowing in the rate of decline in the total sheep flock since 2007 and reflects a more positive outlook for the sector as market conditions remain favourable particularly for exports.

Harrison and Hetherington believe this should provide a good base for producers purchasing replacements this autumn. In the pedigree sheep sector interest should be good as producers are improving their flocks each year. The August Carlisle sale will be of especial interest to farmers who specialise in Continental breeds.

In advance of their September Texel sale Mr Gordon Gray, Chairman and President of the Texel Sheep Society reiterates David’s comments: “On the back of last year’s tremendous sales and clearances, we are expecting this year to continue along the same lines, especially taking into account the strong prices already being shown for prime lambs and ewes.”

“These price levels should have enabled pedigree breeders to perhaps cull more stock than normal in the spring, so hopefully we will see this come through in the quality of the stock being offered at the main sale at Carlisle and the Annual Autumn show and sale where a large selection of shearling ewes, shearling lambs and ram lambs will be on offer.”

This buoyant trend is also expected to continue for the more traditional breed sales (NE Mules, Swaledales, Bluefaced Leicesters) being held at Lazonby, Broughton, Newcastleton and Middleton in Teesdale during September.

For further information on the sales please contact David Pritchard, Operations Director, Harrison & Hetherington on Tel. 01228 406200 or visit

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