Lamb prices are up on last year, but farmers will be wanting some milder, settled weather for lambing to take advantage of the promising market, says Hawke's Bay Federated Farmers president Will Foley.

Farm-gate lamb prices continued to rise over the past month but at a subdued pace, as domestic supply tightened through winter, Rabobank's Agribusiness Monthly said.

As of early July, the slaughter price in the North Island averaged $6.65kg carcass weight while South Island lamb averaged $6.50.

For the North Island, that was up 4 per cent month-on-month and 24 per cent year-on-year.


Mr Foley said he hoped this year's higher prices would filter through to this season, but the market was looking more promising than last year.

"In general it's good, we're getting quite strong prices overseas for our lamb at the moment, but the negative point is the high exchange rate."

Early lambing is under way in Hawke's Bay, and farmers were hoping for some settled weather next month when the main season began.

"We're hoping this year will be a bit different - in the past we've had dry, almost warm stable mid-winters then been hit with storms."

This was the case in early August last year when it was estimated at least 5000 lambs died in Central Hawke's Bay when bad weather hit.

Mr Foley said this winter had been quite rough and it was hoped it would settle down for lambing.

"It's quite wet underfoot and cold - we'll be wanting a turnaround from now, the last thing we want is lambs dropping out on to cold ground."

Bruce Worsnop farms on Makaroro Rd, Tikokino, and said his early lambs started being born about three weeks ago and to date the season was looking good on the back of this year's summer drought.


"It took about a month after the drought broke to come right and stock slipped back for several weeks after the rain came but the sheep have done well since that period."

He said, however, a lot could happen between now and when his lambing properly got under way near the end of August.

"We'll be hoping we don't get any really cold rain when we get really busy."