Mark Richardson prepares for show returns across UK.
The trading season for hoggs is gradually coming to a close and the spring lamb sales are now in full swing.
Post-Christmas the first few months of this year saw a good steady trade for hoggs, however in the last six weeks, demand has increased and prices have risen.
Currently the best heavy hoggs, 60kg or more, have been selling here at Kirkby Stephen for between 180 and 190 per head, and in the next few weeks we anticipate this good trade to continue to the end of the season.
The spring lamb sales started in April and from May onwards we have been seeing good numbers coming forward with sales in recent weeks seeing 1,000-plus head.
Prices at the beginning of this season were on par with last year, averaging 3.53p/kg and one recent sale
average topped at 3.70p/kg.
The best continental cross, export type lambs have regularly been achieving well in excess of 4p/kg and last week this topped at 5.05p/kg for a 38kg Beltex cross, which sold for 192.
Here in the North West, we continue to experience cold weather, which I believe has stopped lamb numbers coming forward in abundance.
However, the quality of lambs is good, demand is strong and this looks set to continue certainly in the short- to medium-term.
At the moment there is a twotiered split between well-finished and the short-finished lambs and we are currently seeing a premium for well-finished and well-fed lambs as this is what buyers are looking for.
It is always good to talk to and to meet people face to face. So, after a two-year break, it is great to be back out at our summer agricultural shows and livestock events across the region, meeting and talking to people once again.
The whole team here at Harrison & Hetherington have been involved in attending the early summer season shows and industry events.
The season kicked off with Beef Expo, at Darlington Auction Mart, organised by the National Beef Association.
This was a tremendous showcase for the British beef industry and was exceptionally well attended.
This was followed a few days later with the National Sheep Association’s Scotsheep, held at Over Finlarg Farm, north of Dundee.
Then came the turn of county shows, the first held on the Jubilee weekend – Northumberland Show at Bywell Hall, Stocksfield, near Hexham.
Last weekend we returned to Cumbria, for the new-look Cumberland Show at its new venue at Warwick-on Eden and it has certainly been hailed as a success.
Several members of the H&H team made the long trip down to the Royal Cornwall Show, helping to promote the North of England Mule Sheep Association, as well as to judge some of the awards on offer.
Without a doubt the highlight for some of the H&H team was that they got to rub shoulders with Prince Charles and the Prime Minister as they toured the show.
These shows and events play such an important role for agriculture and rural life.
Providing an opportunity to showcase the very best of livestock and produce to a range of audiences, while also providing a platform for demonstrating how important farming is to everyone’s health and well-being, as well as what as custodians, our farmers do to enhance the countryside we live in.
We must remember that it is the people who put these marvellous events together who need the thanks.
Committees of volunteers give up their time and work tirelessly to create shows with a long list of attractions to draw crowds of people and provide important opportunities to highlight what the Great British farmer has to offer.
Let us hope that the weather remains kind for the local shows across the country.
Mark Richardson is an auctioneer at Harrison & Hetherington, Call 01228 406 200, or email mark.richardson@ borderway.com.