Many of the lambs have been sold out of Hawke's Bay as far away as Northland and Waikato.

Store lambs were the big highlight at the Stortford Lodge saleyards during May.

Big numbers of up to 10,000 head came through the sales and met strong demand from buyers from Hawke's Bay and around the North Island.

The very best of them topped $150 and best of the rest were only a few dollars less.

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The quality of the much of the offering has been another outstanding feature.

This strong demand was despite a lack of rain that is becoming serious around Hawke's Bay although coastal areas are better off.

PGG Wrightson livestock manager Neil Common said the dry weather meant some of the lambs were reappearing for sale after some finishers found they could not take them through to spring weights.

However, the margins available have made the store market a good option for sellers who are able to make money without having to carry the lambs through or shear them.

Many of the lambs have been sold out of Hawke's Bay as far away as Northland and Waikato.

In the prime lamb pens quality stock reached over the $200 mark. Lighter animals in an often mixed-quality yarding sold accordingly. Numbers offered grew during the month as lambs reached prime weights.

Prime ewe prices also rose slightly, especially for heavy ewes. However, the dry meant lighter ewes were no longer being bought for grazing and were harder to sell.

In-lamb ewes on the market as result of farm sales were also showing up and sold well. One offering of ewes from a Pahiatua farm sold for forestry made between $154 and $180.

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In the cattle pens the prime cattle offerings also grew up to 100 head or more. Earlier in the year there were several sales with no cattle on offer.

Cull cows began appearing and the heavy ones sold well. Heavy angus oxen also did well.
Common said the dry weather meant farmers were off-loading stock to lighten the feed load.

In the store markets sales have been quiet. Traditional breeds such as angus and angus-hereford crosses sold well but lesser-quality dairy-cross stock was harder to shift.

"Without a grass market some cattle are hard to sell," Common said.

He said farmers were becoming anxious over the continued dry and were hoping for a mild winter to get them through lambing and calving.

There is plenty of supplementary feed around after a good growing summer and the outlook for sheep and beef schedules was very positive, he said.

Anyone who could carry their stock through winter would receive "generous rewards", he said.