Prime lambs continued to provide good returns with well-grown pens making over $220.

The price boom for farmers looks likely to continue with solid demand from our markets looking to fill supply gaps.

PGG Wrightson livestock manager Neil Common said returns for lamb and beef were at record levels and would stay that way because of swine fever in Asia and drought throughout a big part of Australia.

Increasing wealth in some of our markets was also driving demand.


October was another good month for farming in Hawke's Bay with big falls of rain of up to 150mm in some areas.

The subsequent grass growth sent buyers on a mission to find mouths to eat it, meaning strong demand for every class of stock at the Stortford Lodge saleyards.

Improving meat schedules also helped drive demand.

In the sheep pens wet-dry ewes began appearing in numbers. Common said there was a $10 lift in prices despite the increased supply. The quality of the prime ewe offering varied during the month but lifted toward the end.

In the store sales the best of the ewes with lambs at foot brought good money, especially the annual offering of five and six-year ewes with terminal lambs from Cricklewood Station, near Wairoa.

Hoggets with lambs at foot lifted to $137.50 all counted at the end of the month.

Prime lambs continued to provide good returns with well-grown pens making over $220. New-season lambs made their first appearance and sold well.

Common said he could see a shortage of new-season prime lambs because the cool spring and lack of grass growth meant many lambs were not up to weight. Now, with ample feed they could keep them for longer. He said rising schedules could bring them forward.


New-season store lambs also showed up in numbers. The tops of the first offering of almost 1400 southdown-cross from Waikareao Station, Te Aute, made $165.

Prices eased in later sales but returns of $150 or more were common.

In the cattle rostrum top quality prime cattle came forward in small numbers and sold accordingly at more than $3/kg for heavy angus steers.

Cull cows also arrived in numbers and also sold well ahead of last year at up to $2.44/kg.

The lush grass growth saw more store cattle come forward. A good angus yearling steer could sell for up to $1300 although most were around the $1000 mark for a 260kg animal.

Common said farmers were under no pressure to sell but the money was too good not to.
At one store sale last month a pen of 29 4-year-old 459kg angus cows with 29 angus calves at foot sold for an astonishing $2105, or $4.58/kg.

Common said farmers were feeling "pretty rosy" after plenty of rain, record returns and rampant grass growth.

Mycoplasma bovis appeared to be under control although "we will have to live with it for a while yet."

Export markets were tracking so people could buy with confidence despite the high prices.

"There is a margin still to be made for a while yet."