The first ewe fair of the season in December was an indication of farmer confidence.
Prices for good young ewes were almost $100 more than last year as the market outlook for sheep meats continues to be strong.
PGG Wrightson agent and auctioneer Neil Common said the ewe fair prices were what agents were expecting with the present confidence in the sheep industry.
A feature of the fair was the good condition and careful presentation of the 10,000 head on offer. This is a reflection of the great growing conditions since last autumn.
In the usual store and prime sales at Stortford Lodge store lamb prices dropped right away as a lack of rain meant no good feed for them. The dry weather also stopped the growth of crops planted to feed lambs over summer.
The story was different for prime lambs. Prices remained steady for offerings of varying quality.
Prime ewes dropped $20 or $30 during the month as processing space tightened and Chinese demand eased. Meat processors were taking prime lambs ahead of ewes, leading to a bottleneck for ewe buyers.
However, although ewe prices have dropped they remain well above last year. Not many store ewes came through the yards in December. Most of them were hoggets with lambs at foot.
Prices for cattle remained steady during the month. Although overall they eased slightly, cows prices remained well over the $2/kg mark for cull cows.
Good oxen dipped below the $3/kg mark but were still above last year's returns. Another feature of the cattle appearing at the prime sales has been the weight of many pens. At the last sale before Christmas every animal weighed more than 750kg and animals topping 800kg also appeared.
In the store pens quality cattle continued to sell well. However, many of the areas which take Hawke's Bay stock, such as Manawatu and Rangitikei, are drier than Hawke's Bay, which meant much stock that would normally go there to be finished stayed in Hawke's Bay.
Mr Common said that overall farmers were still feeling confident. The present summer dry was normal for this time of year and most areas had had a good drop of rain from thunderstorms.
Normally summer-safe country still had good lamb feed and there was still plenty of good cattle feed around.
Mr Common said any easing in prices was due solely to the summer weather and not the markets as farmer confidence in sheep and beef remained strong.
Store lambs and cattle sell well
Store lambs sold on a sound market at the first store sale of the year at Stortford Lodge yesterday.
About 3000 good-quality lambs were on offer to buyers from Hawke's Bay, with one from Marton. A small yarding of about 90 cattle, mostly weaner dairy-breed bulls, also sold well.
Cows with calves at foot: Hautope Land Co, Hautope Rd, 14 6/7yr ang, 14 calves, av weight, 661kg, 272c/kg, $1800/head.
Steers: S Watson, Tutira, five 2yr simm-cross, av weight, 523kg, 279c/kg, $1460/head.
Bulls: Wnr, Wairua Dairies, Aorangi Rd, 20 fries, av weight, 112kg, 480c/kg, $540/head; nine fries-cross, av weight, 109kg, 544c/kg, $595/head; Falling Water Farm, Patoka, 15 fries, av weight 133kg, 451c/kg, $510/head; five dairy-cross, av weight, 109kg, 58c/kg, $565/head.
Heifers: Wairua Dairies, Aorangi Rd, three wnr fries-cross, av weight, 104kg, 421c/kg, $540/head.
Ewes: Hawke's Bay Revival Centre, Porangahau, 29 m/a wilt, $96.
Lambs: Glendale Station, Aropaoanui, 202 weth, $96; 337 weth, $86; 297 ewe, $70; 113 ewe, $75.40; 56 ewe b/f, $99.50; 60 wether b/f, $106.20; 94 ewe b/f, $79.50; 104 weth b/f, $88; 184 weth, $75.50; 98 ewe, $66; 48 ewe b/f, $64.50; Motere Station, Omakere, 247 weth, $97; 100 m/s b/f, $92; 97 m/s b/f, $83; 198 weth, $91.50; 52 weth, $72; Est A W Parsons, Wallingford, 122 m/s b/f, $87; Watts and Son, Tutira, 74 ram, $98.50; 120 m/s, $90; 82 m/s, $63; Omana Agrinomics, Porangahau, 121 weth, $88; 139 ewe, $78.50; 56 weth, $103.50; 51 ewe, $61.50; 79 weth, $63; Glentui P/ship, Tikokino, 133 m/s b/f, $84.50; D J Whitfield and Sons, Sherenden, 55 m/s, $75.70; Mangakuri Station, Kairakau, 55 ewe, $67.50; 32 ram, $80; A Pearce, Puketitiri, 38 ewe, $70; 40 ewe, $61; Hawke's Bay Revival Centre, Porangahau, 26 m/s, $79.
A small yarding of sheep and lambs sold on a strong market at the first sale of the year on Monday. A yarding of about 900 mostly good-quality shorn ewes and 68 lambs sold well to a small number of buyers. No cattle wereon offer.
Ewes: Shorn, heavy, $145, $153; good, $124, $130; med, $112, $114; lighter, $100. Slipe, good, $112.
Lambs: Hoggets, l/t, m/s, $155. Spring, male, $130 to $165, ewe, $90 to $137.50; m/s, # $80 to $150.50.¦