An abundance of rain in June finally broke the endless drought in Hawke's Bay.

For the Stortford Lodge saleyards it was the month of huge sheep yardings as the effects of drought lingered in the shortage of feed to finish stock.

One week the sheep yarding topped 17,000 and other weeks were around the 12,000 mark.

Store lambs made up most of the offerings, but mid-month almost 2000 in-lamb ewes sold.


PGG Wrightson livestock manager Neil Common said prices held up well despite the drought and the number of stock offered.

"There were plenty of outside buyers which helped."

Most of the male lambs went to Waikato buyers and there was a premium paid for the better lambs.

Prime lamb prices also remained solid although down on their pre-Covid highs. The quality also varied.

Numbers were down as the feed shortage meant lambs that would usually be finished by now were being sold store instead.

A feature of most of the in-lamb ewes appearing was the scanned in-lamb percentage.

Some were at least 30 per cent lower than other years. Common said this could be a result of farmers off-loading lighter ewes to save their feed for the better ones. It is also a reflection of a difficult season and could mean fewer lambs coming forward next year.

The prime ewe offering at this time of year is mostly scanned-dry ewes. This year many of them showed the effects of the feed shortage. However, prices held up well. All but the lightest ewes made $100 and the best reached $170. A processing backlog caused by lockdown requirements cleared during the month, which lifted demand.


June was a quiet month in the cattle rostrum. Prime cattle prices reached back over the $3/kg mark for good angus oxen. Quality held up despite the feed shortage. Dry cows much up much of the rest of the smallish offering for the month.

Store cattle prices were sluggish although good lines of steers sold well. Much of the yarding was from farmers "tidying up" for winter stocking levels.

Common said the plentiful rain and subsequent mild weather had cheered farmers up as the grass grew enough to feed the sheep at least. It has also set up farms for the spring as dams have filled and waterways are flowing again.

Truckloads of donated hay and baleage have poured into Hawke's Bay from all over the North Island and some from the South Island. "Drought Shouts" organised through the Drought Hawke's Bay Facebook page have added to an improved morale.

Prices remained solid throughout despite the turmoil and uncertainty in the world and were likely to improve towards spring as supply dropped, he said.