View from the rostrum: Trade was better than anticipated

Mark Richardson on the positive southern sales.

clock • 4 min read
View from the rostrum: Trade was better than anticipated

Mark Richardson on the positive southern sales.

As I write this, I have just returned from Okehampton Show where I was invited to judge the mule sheep section.

The conditions in the south compared to Cumbria were unbelievable and almost desert like in certain areas.


Attending with farmers and Harrison and Hetherington clients from Kirkby Stephen we met with many customers, looked around a number of farms and had the opportunity to judge some fantastic stock.

As auctioneers, trips such as these are an essential part of our job, as they give us time to meet and build relationships with customers on their own territory rather than on busy mart days.


The fat lamb trade has been consistently good so far this year, with demand for strong heavy lambs remaining steadfast.

Buyers are looking for well finished and well fed lambs, and as a result they are selling at great premiums compared to unfinished lambs.

During July and August, we have consistently seen prices averaging between 2.60 - 2.70 per kg, peaking at 3.05 per kg at one of our weekly sales.


However, the top quality and also heavy lambs 45kg plus lambs, are highly sought after, but are few and far between due to the limited supply of grass and the rise in feed costs.


Despite the usual seasonal dip, we have seen in the last two weeks the average is still running at about 20p per kilo ahead of last year, with top lambs selling for between 140 and 150 per head, which is 3.50 - 3.60
per kilo for the best.

Last week’s overall market average for the 2,000 or so lambs which went under the hammer was 2.54 per kg.


I attended the Thame with Bicester Sheep Fair earlier this month, to see some of our southern farmers selling mule gimmer shearlings that they had purchased from Kirkby Stephen last September.

Taking into account the almost drought conditions in the south, sheep were turned out in fantastic condition and the trade was much better than anticipated.

The average price for the mule shearlings was only 70p less than what we saw last year, this is a result which all vendors felt was a good outcome under the current circumstances.


Taking a lead from the prices we have been seeing this year I hope that this bodes well for our up-andcoming autumn Sheep Breeding Sales, which are major sales for the mart and the sheep sector.

There are however reservations, primarily because of the grass situation, as we head towards our opening sale of continental breeding sheep and the North of England Mule Sheep Association gimmer lamb sale on September 9.

With September on the horizon, we are also heading towards another important sale for Kirkby Stephen, which is our Continental Store Cattle Sales, set to take place September 19.


We would expect to see a good entry in all classes of genuine home bred store cattle, with some of the best quality available on offer.

In the region of 600 to 700 head of cattle will go under the hammer and due the decreasing number of suckle cows throughout the country, trade looks set to be buoyant.


At Harrison and Hetherington and Kirkby Stephen Mart we have a strong team of staff who strive to serve our clients in the best way possible and we are delighted to continue to see rising numbers of stock being brought forward at our regular sales.


Our single most important aim is to support our loyal customers and to make every effort to maximise the value of all stock we sell.

It is great that after Covid-19 we are once again seeing larger numbers of people at our weekly sales, along with the many numbers of purchasers and vendors who travel long distances from the four corners of the UK for the annual sales.


So, as we head into the autumn, I would like to congratulate farmers and breeders for consistently turning out such tremendous quality stock on a weekly basis here at Kirkby Stephen Market and with continually rising input costs, this is not playing easily into the farmers hands.

Mark Richardson

Mark Richardson, regional sales manager (Kirkby Stephen) and Harrison and Hetherington Auctioneer. Call 07950 454 132 or email [email protected]

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