A gentle dry July set a spring tone around Stortford Lodge saleyards with a lift in prices throughout the month.

Store lambs were the stars of the month with big numbers of quality lambs attracting record prices of up to $180 as finishers seek to fill contracts and the grass continued to grow.

The lambs came from as far afield as Taupo as well as from Wairoa to Dannevirke.
Even smaller lambs were making up to $140.

'The ducks are all in a row and there is a positive vibe in the prime markets.'

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PGG Wrightson livestock manager Neil Common said similar high prices at the Feilding sales were driven by Hawke's Bay buyers.

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"Prices are at least $50 up on last year."

The mild dry weather of July was a contrast to the rain of June and kept the grass growing. The numbers of lambs coming forward was an indication of a great lambing season last year and good feed since.

"And it will be the same this year."

In the prime sale big numbers of lambs again came forward. Vendors were encouraged by the premiums paid for prime lambs which were $10 to $12 above works prices, Common said.

Huge demand for export lamb and a worldwide shortage would underpin the market for some time, he said. New Zealand exports up to 95 per cent of its lamb production.

Prime ewes remained particularly strong as they have for at least a year now as the demand from China continues. Numbers dropped away at the end of the month and will remain that way until after lambing.

Scanned in-lamb ewes have made good money but there have not been big numbers of them.

Those in-lamb to an early terminal ram made the best money of up to $200.

Small numbers of ewes with lambs at foot have also made serious money of up to $113 all counted but there have been only small numbers of them. More will arrive next month.

The cattle market has been a typical winter market with small numbers at most sales.

The store cattle market lifted during the month after slipping during June.

Neil Common said the traditional beef breeds sold best although an offering of yearling charolais heifers and steers made more than $4/kg. Two-year-old heifers also broke through the $3/kg level.

Good in-calf cows also sold well.

The prime cattle market was marked by small yardings although prices held up.

Farmers were now busy lambing and calving and hoping for a good spring.

This week's rain will make the grass bolt if the temperatures hold up.

"The ducks are all in a row and there is a positive vibe in the prime markets," he said.
"Farmers doing early lambing and calving have got off to a great start."