The rain Hawke's Bay had needed for months lingered into July.

More than 200mm fell in June and July and although it was too late for real grass growth, it gave confidence to buyers at the Stortford Lodge saleyards.

Unusually for July some grass did grow although it was then slowed by frosts late in the month.

At the yards the huge yardings of store lambs came down from their highs of more than 15,000 but prices remained solid.

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During June, outside buyers, particularly from Waikato, kept prices up especially for male lambs.

PGG Wrightson livestock manager Neil Common said that in July it was Hawke's Bay winter traders entering the market which kept prices solid, especially for male lambs. Despite the sustained lack of feed, the overall condition of the lamb offering was good.

However, it was noticeable that far fewer lambs were shorn.

This was put down to the cost of shearing, the poor returns for wool and the lack of feed for newly shorn animals.

There were not big numbers of in-lamb ewes and many of those that did arrive were from farms that had been sold.

Common said it was clear some farmers were off-loading lighter or single-bearing ewes to save feed for the better ones.

In the prime markets, the quality of the ewe offering eased off as the effects of the long drought grew.

However, meat companies were looking for ewes to process so prices remained firm with good ewes making better than $150. Numbers also fell during the month as pregnancy scanning finished.

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In the prime lamb pens, the quality varied during the month.

Prices remained good, especially at the last sale of the month when a small pen of male lambs made $212, a price not seen since last year.

At the same sale other pens made better than $180 and up to $195.

The cattle sales had the same "winter clean-up" look as June.

The store cattle offered again looked lighter than usual and yardings were small in a sign of the times.

On the other hand, most prime cattle were in good condition and sold accordingly. At the last sale of the month some angus oxen weighing more than 600kg made up to $3.02/kg.

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Numbers remained small during the month and are expected to stay that way until the grass grows properly.

Common said that, overall, farmers were feeling better than they were in May. Small signs of spring were appearing as lambs and calves arrived and the days lengthened.

Export markets were looking good despite restaurants being shut by lockdowns.

Common said supermarket trade picked up because people were having to eat at home.

"So overall the situation is positive."