Sheep and beef farmers continue to walk with a distinct spring in their step, with prices remaining strong.

The longer daylight hours and rising ground temperatures promoting substantial grass growth off the back of a kind winter is also warming the hearts of farmers and increasing confidence levels that all is well with the world.

Independent Whanganui livestock trader and commentator David Cotton said confidence in the sheep market was easy to see with ewe with lambs at foot fetching between $107 and $130 a head.

"That equates to around $390 for a unit with twins in today's market," Cotton said.

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"The store market for old-season lambs [hoggets] is holding up well with most types still making up to the $4.20/kg range.

"The best male lambs at a recent Feilding sale around 44kg liveweight made $193, while the kill price [schedule] for lambs [hoggets] settled around the $8.50/kg mark.

"I have been surprised how many lambs I know of that have killed at around the 20kg [dressed] average or better," Cotton said.

David Cotton says some of the returns are making farmers laugh all the way to the bank.
David Cotton says some of the returns are making farmers laugh all the way to the bank.

"Three years ago the average would have been about 18kg. Today is the heavier the better. The money is in the weight, especially when the schedule is at the $8.50/kg mark — grading just goes out the window."

Cotton said he was hearing reports out of Hawke's Bay that killing sheets are averaging 27kg [dressed] or $230 a head.

"That's making farmers smile all the way to the bank. And with rain we've seen Hawke's Bay buyers enter the cattle market competing with our locals to purchase stock.

"The market has lifted across all classes. Friesian bulls, both yearlings and 2-year-olds, were almost impossible to sell two weeks ago, but now are experiencing the biggest lift in price.

"A major cost in farming cattle has been the funding of the money. However, with interest rates falling below 6per cent and a schedule of $6/kg plus there are good returns to be had for farming cattle," Cotton said.

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