Thursday, August 18, 2022

Grass-driven demand for breeding ewes

Early in-lamb ewe prices at Stortford Lodge exceeded expectations as this consignment of five-year Romney reached $221-$232.

A favourable autumn that has left pasture covers high is directly related to an increase in demand for older in-lamb ewes in Hawke’s Bay. 

While it is still early days for scanning, PGG Wrightson agent Paul Bayes said they have been receiving plenty of enquiry for in-lamb ewes and in particular older lines.

“There has been huge enquiry this year for in-lamb ewes, especially earlier lambing, older lines in 100-200-head mob sizes,” Bayes said.

“The good autumn and great feed levels have been the driver and more local buyers are looking for a few extra ewes to put away.”

Typically, in-lamb ewes will start arriving at Stortford Lodge in decent volume towards the end of June, but already a significant number have been penned and more are expected in the weeks to come. 

Three main vendors sold in-lamb ewes at the recent sale, for differing reasons. 

The biggest consignment featured 700 five-year Romney ewes that had been purchased earlier in the year to graze a forestry conversion and were presented to a keen bench of buyers, scanned just two days prior. 

A second consignment of 400 were annual draft and were trailblazers for around 1500 that come from the Takapau property to the yards each year.

Carrfields agent Tony Proudfoot said they generally start to offload these ewes from mid-June though they were scanned earlier this year with very good results.

“The season allowed for much better-conditioned ewes and that came through in their scanning and in turn prices,” Proudfoot said. 

“Usually the vendors scan around 130-140%, but this year 163% was achieved and they sold for $200.” 

All the earlier ewes offered had been to terminal rams and, even with the early lift in volume, the sale exceeded expectations and many buyers left empty handed. 

The top five five-year Romney ewes with scanning percentages of 168-175% reached $221-$232 and mixed-age Romney at 166% returned $174.50-$205.50.  

Last year, comparative ewes at the early sales sold for $190-$200. 

Hawke’s Bay is renowned for being earlier lambing country and already new-season lambs are starting to appear in the paddocks.

This article was written by AgriHQ analyst Suz Bremner. Suz leads the AgriHQ LivestockEye team, including data collectors who are tasked with being on the ground at sale yards throughout the country. Subscribe to AgriHQ reports here.

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