Even the most powerful superlatives struggle to describe the sheep markets in today's environment.

In the words of independent Whanganui livestock farmer, trader and commentator David Cotton the markets have never been better.

"The stars have aligned and there is a pot of gold at the end of this rainbow," Cotton said.

"With the exception of wool, and we're used to that, this is the strongest sheep market I have ever seen."


Supply and demand, of course, is again driving the ship.

"The weather has been kind over the last month and early lambs are hitting the ground, but the scanning rates for many of my clients have been back as much as 20 per cent. The ewes haven't tupped as well as last year, possibly because of the drier January/February.

"So there will be a lot less lambs hitting the ground come spring time and thanks to Shane Jones and his billion trees campaign there will be a lot less ewes on the ground as they come off the hills in their droves to make way for trees.

"Watch this space, I think lamb breeders are in for another good year."

And after three or four good years, Cotton said as some were thinking it could not get any better, the lamb job has taken yet another jump.

"Contract prices for an August delivery are set at $9/kg and I just can't recall them being that high. It will give the store market yet another injection of confidence with the average store lamb making over $4/kg liveweight at the saleyards last week.

"This suggests to me that selling out the store lambs and replacing them with in-lamb ewes looks good trading"

The kind weather has also finally given the cattle market the boost most vendors have been looking for.


"What is interesting to me is with the record returns for sheep, the solid returns from beef and low interest rates, sheep and beef farmers are not competing with forestry and the returns from carbon farming to buy land."