A week must be a long time in the sheep market because Friday's market experienced the first major correction for quite some time and, unfortunately for vendors, the direction was downwards right from the start.

Twice as many ewes with lambs at foot were offered and prices were down for all without the highest quality lines of some recent weeks. $93.50 all counted was the top price for 55 ewes with 88 lambs at foot from ZN Agri, Martinborough. Some passings were recorded.

Passings were also recorded in the hogget pens with no more offered than last week so the numbers did not drive the market. The buyers' appetite for finishing hoggets seemed to have disappeared with sale prices down by $10/head in many cases. This made life a little painful for those who could have sold last week but held back. Many of the hoggets offered were light to medium weight ewe hoggets and these were affected the most.

The top sale price was $145.50 for 61 woolly mixed sex hoggets from K Young and Sons, Raetihi, and the Kiifhuss Brothers, Patea, sold 84 shorn, well conditioned ewe hoggets for $144. The time remaining to finish hoggets is dwindling and buyers will be achieving reduced margins so vendors need to be realistic with their reserves from now on or their sheep will return home.

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Life was easier for many vendors in the cattle yards but not all. Well bred steers certainly sold to firm demand. Specially advertised cattle did not all arrive but 19 three year old Angus steers from Belmont Station, Kimbolton, sold for $1927 ($3.22) to be the top price for the day. Tony Brown, Kimbolton, sold another draft of 22 Angus and Angus/Hereford cross two year steers for $1735 ($3.34) to lead that section and a pen of 24 very good Angus yearlings from TK Viles, Waiata, was sold for $1390 ($3.45) to show the age progression with both sections firming.

The older bull yarding was of little significance but, again this week, a very large number of yearling bulls was offered and the high numbers overwhelmed the buyers again. 11 top yearling Friesian bulls from P Chapman, Kimbolton, sold for $1340 ($3.13) which was a good effort as they were younger cattle than the autumn-born bulls also offered.

There was a range of ages in this section and a selection of breeds but so many yearling bulls have been sold in recent weeks and the spring growth has not kicked in. Older heifers were in low numbers and thus not significant like the older bull section.

Fewer yearling heifers were offered as well and the weights were generally less than last week. Consequently, yearling heifer prices also eased back. RF & JD Murray, Wanganui, sold the two better lines and, of interest, the 22 slightly lighter straight Angus sold for more than the 8 heavier Angus/Hereford cross with the blacks at $1020 ($3.73) and the whiteheads at $1000 ($3.54).

Buyers were choosy in the cattle rostrum but it was easier to sell cattle than sheep. Sheep (6522): ewes (756) with LAF (1,027); $66-$93.50; hoggets (4,663); 41-48kg, $130-$145.50, $3.03-$3.55, ease; 36-40kg, $105-$138, $2.90-$3.84, ease; 31-35kg, $100-$121, $2.92-$3.79, ease; 28-30kg, $90-$119.50, $3.13-$3.97, ease.
Cattle (861): steers; 3yr (49), 565-597kg, $1770-$1927, $3.12-$3.24; 2yr (220), 312-525kg, $1010-$1735, $2.87-$3.58, firm; 1yr (152), 154-402kg, $580-$1390, $3.20-$4.44, firm; bulls; 2yr (41), 320-470kg, $880-$1610, $2.62-$3.42; 1yr (346), 158-428kg, $555-$1340, $2.52-$3.81, ease; heifers; 2yr (32), 338-410kg, $1060-$1260, $3.02-$3.13; 1yr (121), 138-282kg, $495-$1020, $2.84-$3.83, ease.