Prices at last month's North Island sale increased on the back of a weaker New Zealand dollar and steady offshore interest, and pushed lambswool to its highest price in three years.

The demand from China helped push lambswool prices up to $6.10 a kilo. First lambs finer than 27.5 micron came under strong competition, lifting 7 per cent, with the balance 1.5 to 2.5 per cent stronger.

The strong demand saw 97 per cent of the 10,000 bales sold. Fine crossbred fleece and shears were 1 to 4 per cent dearer, coarse crossbred fleece was 1 to 3 per cent stronger with shears generally firm to 2 per cent dearer.

Long oddments were 4 to 6 per cent dearer, with short good colour oddments firm and poorer styles up 4 per cent. Interest was well spread with China, India and Australasia dominating, supported by Western Europe, the Middle East and Britain.

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Almost 23,000 bales will be offered today, with about 9000 bales from the North Island and 12,800 from the South.

BUILDINGS CATER FOR LITTLE PIGS

They can be used for everything from mobile site officers to portable toilets.

Now, little buildings the size of shipping containers are being used for little pigs as ready-to-use nursery cabins to help pig producers rear surplus piglets away from the sows.

Andy Brown has just had one installed, the 28-pig size, designed specifically to fit in with his system - allowing for one surplus pig for each sow, with some extra capacity.

It has its own heating, ventilation and slurry system, and a warm-water feeder which mixes gruel for the piglets on a little-and-often basis, mimicking a sow's feeding pattern.

LONG LIST OF IMPORTED WINNERS

A young Welsh shearer who had been working in Hawke's Bay since November became the latest of a string of overseas shearers who have won competitions in New Zealand this summer when he claimed the Taihape A&P Show junior title. Eight countries, including New Zealand, are represented on the list of winners on the Shearing Sports New Zealand circuit since the start of October.

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The countries include Australia, Ireland, Scotland, Chile, Mongolia, and Japan. James McKenzie, 20, is from Llantristan, west of Cardiff, and worked for Napier contractor Brendan Mahony until recently shifting camp to the Taihape area.

The Rotorua A&P Show the next day provided King Country veteran David Fagan with another victory, in an open final, which was unusual in modern competition - being an A-grade North Island final without any Hawke's Bay shearers.

SUPPLIERS OBJECT TO CHEAP PRICES

A group of MPs in Britain is urging its Government to increase protection to dairy farmers by fining supermarkets that do not charge enough for milk. It comes in a report of the House of Commons Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee, urging penalties for overly competitive pricing. Committee chairwoman Anne McIntosh says most dairy farmers fall outside the protection offered by the grocery codes adjudicator, who can investigate complaints only involving direct suppliers to the big 10 supermarkets and retailers. "As most milk production is small scale, that excludes most dairy farmers," she says.

One retailer was reportedly selling four pints (1.9 litres) of milk for just 75p ($1.48), although the average is 1.13 ($2.23).