When it rains in November in Hawke's Bay, everything changes and last month was no exception.

Up to 150mm fell in some places and a month that was shaping up to be hard work looked a lot better.

Everyone got enough warm easterly rain to make a difference and as the grass grew prices rose at Stortford Lodge saleyards.

The first two weeks of the month were dry which made buyers nervous.

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However, after the rain store cattle and lambs lifted considerably in price.

PGG Wrightson livestock manager Neil Common said cattle lifted 20c to 30c/kg with a 300kg steer up to $150 dearer at the end of the month. Lambs rose $5 to $10 a head for a 35kg animal.

"There was a big change in the space of 10 days."

As has been the case all year the good condition of the offering was a feature.

The lamb yarding was all new-season lambs by the middle of the month and they arrived in big numbers of 5000 or more. The best of the store lambs made up to $125 for a 30kg animal.

Prime ewe numbers increased with weaning and again the condition of most of them was a feature.

The best of them made up to $180 but mostly there were between $160 and $170 with all but the lightest ones making more than $100.

In the store pens the ewes with lambs at foot were mostly hoggets which made around the $75 all counted mark before lifting to around $90 toward the end of the month.
Prime lamb numbers lifted as the last of the old-season lambs came though before easing toward the end of the month.

The very best of the new-season lambs made up to $180 but most were between $150 and $170 for the better sorts. The schedules eased after the Christmas chill trade closed which was reflected in easier prices at the end of the month.

In the cattle rostrum short-term store cattle remained popular with the price lifting from $3.10/kg to $3.50/kg after the rain.

"The early sales were a hard slog and then suddenly they weren't," Common said.
The feature of the prime sales was the weights of some of the offering. Animals of more than 600kg were common. A lot of cull cows came forward to a lifting market.

Common said farmers were feeling "pretty darn good" after all the rain, even if it did mean extra work drenching lambs.

Continuing optimism about markets also helped.

"All the meat markets are looking stable.

"With the grass growth the way it is farmers are under no pressure to get rid of stock and can afford to keep them to eat the grass and to reach heavier weights."