Early glances at the ewe fair scene usually focus on results in the North Island but in the past few weeks South Island fairs have been steadily ticked off.
There have undoubtedly been drops in returns across the board because of lower lamb and mutton schedules, but on the whole values have been solid. PGG Wrightson agent Barry McAlister attributes this to there being “not a lot of ewes on the market”.
A solid 2-tooth result at Temuka was followed by its adult ewe fair at the end of January. Throughput was higher than last year, by 1124 head, but this was mostly due to several capital stock lines. A good crowd of buyers with plenty of feed at home kept the market honest.
Top prices in the 2- and 3-shear ewes landed from $150 to $160, the breeding of which included Romney, Coopworth, Border Leicester-Romney and Coopworth-Texel. Border Leicester-Corriedale reached $126 for 2-shear options and came down to $66 for the older girls.
Balclutha offered some bigger numbers at almost 5500 head. The bulk of 2-tooth were Romney and the top cut of these made $201-$210. The next price bracket of $172-$190 included a few variations including first-cross Romney-Texel, Romdale and a composite breed known as Textra.
The top 2-tooth return, though, was $214 and went to Owaka-sourced Coopdale with Braeburn bloodlines. Mixed-age and 5-year options in your more typical Romney or Perendale types came in from $100 to $132.
It took less than two hours to sell the crossbred and fine-wool ewes at Hawarden on Friday, January 26. Keeping in line with other fairs, results for 2-tooth crossbred ewes ranged from $140 to $200. The outcome for mixed-age ewes was divided on breeding and Corriedale and Halfbred ewes tougher selling over their crossbred counterparts.
The rise of the Wiltshire continues and a series of Wiltshire-specific sales, including Mount Cass, Tarata Hills and Hawarden, chalked up another result. At Hawarden, 2500 head of shedding ewes and ewe lambs were predominantly Wiltshire with a few lines of Australian White mixed in. Top 2-tooth Wiltshire managed $210-$250 and mixed-age lines traded up to $168. The pick of Wiltshire ewe lambs returned $110-$140.
There was almost another 2000 head at Mount Cass Station, Waipara, and results were very similar across 2-tooth and annual draft lines. Fully shed ewe lambs were a hit, though, and the top cut with a sample weight of 37kg fetched $190. The second draft, 31kg, returned $182 while lighter options traded alongside three-quarter shed ewe lambs at $105 or less.
Tarata Hills, located near Centre Bush in Southland, held a Wiltshire ewe and ram sale on Wednesday, February 7. While there was certainly a price correction since last year, McAlister reported that the result was “still above expectations considering meat schedules”.
There were two lines of 2-tooth ewes available, and these fetched $248-$255 while the three drafts of ewe lambs managed $152-$192.
“A few rams were passed in at auction but by the end of the sale there was a complete clearance of 2-tooth rams and the top price for these was a sound $1,900 while the balance traded between $700 and $1,600,” said McAlister.
A handful of ram lambs stayed put but they mostly sold for $250-$450.
It is not all over, though, and there are plenty of opportunities left to purchase ewes. Lawrence will be holding its ewe fair right as this newspaper hits mailboxes and there are always a few stock dispersal sales, such as Kingston Station at the tip of Lake Wakatipu.
Capital stock and store lambs will be offered this Friday, February 16, due to the property being leased. There will be 3,800 head of Romdale ewes, 4-shear to 6-year, 50 rams and 4000 ewe and wether lambs to pick from.
This article was written by AgriHQ analyst Fiona Quarrie. Subscribe to AgriHQ reports here.