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Author Topic: Selling lambs at market  (Read 404 times)

NewLifeOnTheFarm

  • Joined Jun 2016
Selling lambs at market
« on: January 05, 2019, 04:28:53 pm »
Due to our abattoir being so far away now, we are thinking of moving towards selling lambs at market, which would be a new thing for us. We have Shetland ewes, and the plan would be to put them to a Suffolk tup.

My issue is with auction/marketplace terminology. Am I right in my understanding that selling lambs from this cross, once at the correct weight, would be sold as prime lambs?

Sorry for my ineptitude, sheep keeping is such a learning process! We have only ever bought from rare breeds before but are looking to diversify.

Many thanks,
C
Voss Electric Fence

Scotsdumpy

  • Joined Jul 2012
Re: Selling lambs at market
« Reply #1 on: January 05, 2019, 05:35:13 pm »
You might be best asking your preffered mart. Sometimes you can sell direct to an abbatoir for certain supermarkets but I think you need consistent weights and numbers and have to be farm assured - you will probably need this certification for selling to the meat market. I sell my shetlands and crosses as store lambs - the purchaser can then do what they like with them (fatten or slaughter). I'm not farm assured either. I'm in Aberdeenshire if that makes a difference.

NewLifeOnTheFarm

  • Joined Jun 2016
Re: Selling lambs at market
« Reply #2 on: January 05, 2019, 05:57:57 pm »
Thank you, I will pm you

twizzel

  • Joined Apr 2012
Re: Selling lambs at market
« Reply #3 on: January 05, 2019, 08:57:46 pm »
Selling as prime (fat) lambs you would be better farm assured but for small scale producers it is often not feesable or cost effective to do. I think you might get penalised at live market though due to them being half primitive breed, not sure they would be commercial enough lambs even being half Suffolk  :-\ 

landroverroy

  • Joined Oct 2010
Re: Selling lambs at market
« Reply #4 on: January 05, 2019, 08:59:51 pm »
Due to our abattoir being so far away now, we are thinking of moving towards selling lambs at market, which would be a new thing for us. We have Shetland ewes, and the plan would be to put them to a Suffolk tup.

My issue is with auction/marketplace terminology. Am I right in my understanding that selling lambs from this cross, once at the correct weight, would be sold as prime lambs?

Sorry for my ineptitude, sheep keeping is such a learning process! We have only ever bought from rare breeds before but are looking to diversify.

Many thanks,
C


Yes you are right. The preferred weight for prime lambs is @ 36 - 40kg, and obviously they need to be of the right degree of fatness as well. You should be able to get to 36kg when crossed with a Suffolk, and if you keep them growing. (I actually once had a pure bred Shetland that reached 40 kg, but it was grossly overfat!) But you will probably need to get someone to show you how to assess fatness. You do not need to be farm assured to sell at market. For sheep in particular, at my local market, farm assured makes no difference in price. You can sell any number you want at a time, but I like to have at least 2 (evenly sized) in a pen as one looks a bit lonely! 
« Last Edit: January 05, 2019, 09:06:58 pm by landroverroy »
Rules are made:
  for the guidance of wise men
  and the obedience of fools.

twizzel

  • Joined Apr 2012
Re: Selling lambs at market
« Reply #5 on: January 06, 2019, 08:54:34 am »
Due to our abattoir being so far away now, we are thinking of moving towards selling lambs at market, which would be a new thing for us. We have Shetland ewes, and the plan would be to put them to a Suffolk tup.

My issue is with auction/marketplace terminology. Am I right in my understanding that selling lambs from this cross, once at the correct weight, would be sold as prime lambs?

Sorry for my ineptitude, sheep keeping is such a learning process! We have only ever bought from rare breeds before but are looking to diversify.

Many thanks,
C


Yes you are right. The preferred weight for prime lambs is @ 36 - 40kg, and obviously they need to be of the right degree of fatness as well. You should be able to get to 36kg when crossed with a Suffolk, and if you keep them growing. (I actually once had a pure bred Shetland that reached 40 kg, but it was grossly overfat!) But you will probably need to get someone to show you how to assess fatness. You do not need to be farm assured to sell at market. For sheep in particular, at my local market, farm assured makes no difference in price. You can sell any number you want at a time, but I like to have at least 2 (evenly sized) in a pen as one looks a bit lonely!


Best prices down here are 40-45kg especially as the season goes on and kill out % decreases. A 36kg older lamb night struggle to kill out to 17kg (deadweight specs normally pay out best price on 17-21kg). Hence why I said Shetland x would not be commercial enough to hit those weights with the right  fat levels. Problem with not being assured is it limits who can buy your stock, some buyers can only buy assured animals. Have a look at ahdb website prices and it shows assured and non assured averages for each market, quite useful. Best bet is to go to market, see what sells, and speak to the auctioneer.

landroverroy

  • Joined Oct 2010
Re: Selling lambs at market
« Reply #6 on: January 06, 2019, 11:20:37 am »
I wouldn't argue with your figures Twizzel. But I'm not farm assured and as you say it's not worth it for a smallholder. However I have used a Suffolk ram for 30 + years on breeds varying from Shetlands, Ryelands, mules etc and never had a problem selling them fat nor got less for the weight and conformation because I wasn't F A.
Most newcomers  to farming find a breed they like and find out what suits their local market - yours prefers 40 45kg, with mine it's 36 - 40kg.  Obviously you don't expect as much per kg for a Shetland x as you would for a pure Texel. But on the plus side, a Shetland ewe doesn't eat half as much either and will be better suited to the rough grazing available. 
« Last Edit: January 06, 2019, 11:23:20 am by landroverroy »
Rules are made:
  for the guidance of wise men
  and the obedience of fools.

SallyintNorth

  • Joined Feb 2011
  • Cornwall
  • Rarely short of an opinion but I mean well
Re: Selling lambs at market
« Reply #7 on: January 06, 2019, 09:09:48 pm »
Just in case the terminology needs some explanation:

Prime or primestock is animals that are ready to slaughter.  Most animals sold in the prime (also called fat) ring will go straight to an abattoir - although some buyers will pick up animals that would benefit from a bit of finishing and take them home and feed them up a bit.

Generally these animals are priced per kg liveweight.  The batch is weighed on the way into the ring, and bidding is pence per kilo.  Buyers may feel the animals either in the ring or on the way to the ring - they’ll know what conformation they’ll hit from a quick squeeze or two.

The store ring is animals that are generally not ready for slaughter (although sometimes there are some in there which are in fact just right, and may be bought and shipped direct to abattoir.). Also sometimes called feeding sheep.  (Need more feeding before they’re ready for slaughter.).

Generally store animals are priced per head.  They’re not weighed and bidding is pounds and pence per head.  Again, buyers may feel the sheep to judge how much feeding they’ll need and what their underlying conformation is.

You would think that a pen of five fat lambs in the prime ring would always fetch more than a pen of five similar lambs, not yet ready for slaughter, in the store ring - but it is not always so.  A buyer of store lambs is effectively buying futures - the price those sheep will fetch later in the year, when they’re ready.  Sometimes you’ll see small, skinny lambs fetch more in the store ring than well-finished lambs in fat ring at the same market on the same day.  All sorts of factors play a part here.

What the commercial farmers in Shetland do is cross the Shetland to a Cheviot.  The ewe lambs are retained for breeding and are put to a Suffolk for fat lambs; the wethers from the first cross are ideal overwintering store lambs for a dairy farmer and should sell well at the end of the summer.  The first cross ewe lambs also sell well as breeding sheep. 

Cheviot lambs are born small and grow from late autumn onwards, making corking hoggs to sell fat after New Year, before the spring lambs are ready.

A Shetland ewe will take a Suffolk tup and produce a couple or three crops of good lambs for you, but the heavier birth weight lambs will take their toll on her belly muscles.

It might be worth having a chat with the auctioneers at your local mart to see what cross they think would suit you and their customers.
Don't listen to the money men - they know the price of everything and the value of nothing

Live in a cohousing community with small farm for our own use.  Dairy cow, beef cattle, pigs, sheep for meat and fleece, ducks and hens for eggs, veg and fruit growing

NewLifeOnTheFarm

  • Joined Jun 2016
Re: Selling lambs at market
« Reply #8 on: January 08, 2019, 08:49:09 am »
Thank you, that is really useful information. Lots of thinking to do! I

Thanks to everyone on here, it's such a wealth of experience and knowledge from so many different angles, it is so valuable to beginners.

C

 

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