The writing has been on the wall from mid summer when it was clear that fodder supplies, the availability of vegetable by-products and the maize harvest were going to be hit by our hottest summer for forty years, that farmers were going to have to take some action over stocking before this winter arrived.
The consequence in the markets has been that more cattle and more sheep have come forward for sale. Demand from purchasers has been more selective with costs and pressures only too apparent and prices have eased as the weeks have gone by. However it is remarkable, and a credit to the livestock market system, how well supply and demand adjusts to these economic and practical factors.
Some people talk of a Brexit factor but maybe this is a general malaise affecting the whole country as we watch the news too much!
We have seen a lot of store cattle in the market during October with 500-600 catalogued on a weekly basis. Balancing these levels of numbers with the buying contacts that the market has built up over the years and generations is critical. No one can beat the trade or at least not for long. Ups and downs are both part of the process sending the critical messages out across the country to buyers and sellers ready to react to opportunity.
Plenty of good cattle have been selling well in excess of £1,000/head with a top call of £1,215 for Angus x steers and £1,155 for Angus x heifers from Oxenford Farms, Godalming. All our customers, big and small, are important to us and all combine together to give the market its strength but particular mention this month to Edward and Robert Hanks, Rochester selling big numbers in both cattle and sheep sales. Busy for markets; busy for farmers.
Sheep have come forward in numbers with over 10,000 on some Friday sales. The grass position has improved a little on the west side of the country and store lamb rates are improving a little. The same cannot be said about ewe tegs and breeding ewes which have been disappointing. Last year’s difficult conditions have coloured many people’s judgement over lambing and nobody wants any more – for the time being at least!
Though ewe teg prices were higher in the early sales of August and September during October we saw top prices of £138 for Romneys, L Ramsden, Appledore; £122 for Suffolk x Mules, L Andreozzi, Petworth; and £119 for North Country Mules, R & S Payton, Chichester. This doesn’t sound too bad but there was a lot of sorry news below!
Farm sales are a highlight of any season and we were very pleased to take instructions from Paul and Alison Elliott to disperse their excellent range of quality farm implements and machinery at Fairlight, Hastings. A big crowd attended the sale and the power of strong connections and quality details online meant buyers were represented from across the country and beyond the waters into Southern Ireland.
A selection of prices achieved
Vermeer Wood Chipper £3,300; Twose Hedge Cutter £10,000; Tanco Bale Wrapper £5,600; Mzuri Rehab £5,200; Amazone Catros £5,000; Amazone Combi-Drill £10,400; Claas Rotocut Baler £10,200; Samsung Excavator £12,600; Houseman MP Sprayer £14,800; NC 14 Tonne Trailers £9,100; NC Low Load Trailer £5,000; Fraser Muckspreader £5,400; JD 6610 Tractor £20,000; Claas Scorpion Telehandler £30,000