Alastair Brown on the unprecedented times.
We are currently going through events rarely seen before. Even the older generation of farmers have never witnessed anything like it as agriculture is forced into the limelight.
With increased global pressures highlighting the importance of food production, you also have immense pressures of your own, with escalating costs more than matching rising commodity prices.
It has been another busy year in the livestock markets. We have seen better finished cattle prices than those achieved via deadweight, with regular handy weight butcher’s cattle and out of spec types realising more as a result of competitive bidding.
A fall in cattle numbers has also been noticed again this year, which should increase prices as demand outstrips supply.
Store cattle have seen record prices again this year for short term beasts and most auctions have recorded an increase in price of 50-100 per head on the year.
While some buyers are waiting until later in the year when they think cattle may be cheaper, what will cattle numbers be like by then?
In the sheep pens, prices are all over the place, with many second quality hoggs coming on to the market as producers are tidying up before lambing. But these do not seem to be what the consumer wants.
Easter is just around the corner and lamb is marketed and advertised heavily, so hopefully there will be a short lift in trade before the season ends.
Cull ewes have seen a massive lift from a month ago, with many markets averaging more than 100 for their entry and regularly selling ewes to more than 200, with Mules anything from 100-180.
It has been a great start to the year for sellers of ewes and lambs, with the weather helping those sales and enabling buyers to turn their purchases on to dry ground.
Warm days are helping lambs thrive and this is also being helped by the high demand for ewes.
A turnaround for pigs has been seen, with more demand for young, weaned pigs a lot better than we have seen for some time. Even the sows have seen more demand as prices lift 40p/kg on the deadweight sector in a week.
Farm dispersal sales look set for another busy year, with all sorts of sales in the pipeline, from complete dispersals to reductions of machinery and effects for financial reasons.
Prices are still as buoyant for second-hand equipment as new stock is difficult to obtain.
We must all focus on overheads and costs and do not just hope for the best. There are many professionals in the field who are there to help and do not be afraid of change when it comes to buying and selling.
Alastair Brown is senior auctioneer at Bletsoes, Thrapston and Stratford.
Call 07885 804 450 or email [email protected]