Despite the recent roller-coaster trade for prime lambs, the first of the store lamb sales have held up well, with several markets not only witnessing increased prices for the heavier lambs but also for the smaller entries.
Compared to the same sales last year, several auctioneers have reported values up £2-£3 per head in general, with the better quality end rising by as much as £4-£5.
At United Auctions’ first main sale at Stirling on Monday, Suffolk cross lambs averaged £64.83, up more than £5 on the year, with Beltex crosses rising by more than £6 per head to level at £63.21 and Texel crosses at £63.21, up almost £4.
Top prices were £81 and £72 per head paid for Suffolk cross lambs from Ardoch and Threepland.
“We had almost 5000 lambs forward, which was 800 head up on the year and they were all well sought after,” said Matt Stevenson, United Auctions’ sheep auctioneer. 
“Suffolk cross ewe lambs for breeding sold particularly well, with many pens reporting averages up £8 per head up, but Texel cross and Mule ewe lambs also sold well,” he added, pointing out that some lambs were 0.5kg lighter compared to this time last year, due to the wetter weather experienced in recent weeks.
Harrison and Hetherington auctioneer, David Fearon, also highlighted the increased number of lighter weight lambs forward at this time of year, due in part, he said, to more lambs in the 35kg-38kg bracket having been sold through the prime ring.
However, he also pointed out that all store lambs have been a good trade and “better than expected” at Monday’s sale at Carlisle, given the fact that the prime lamb market crashed last week.
“Top price at Monday’s sale was £78 for Texel cross lambs but we also saw good 34kg lambs making £71.50, 30kg entries selling for £70 per head and Mules at £50,” said Mr Fearon.
“Prices are up on the year, anything from £2-£3 per head with the better lambs up nearer £4-£5 and we had slightly more forward compared to the same sale in 2016.
Craven Auction Mart’s second store lamb sale of the season at Skipton, proved dearer than it’s first sale two weeks previously, too, with the turnout of 3604 head cashing in at £62.65 each.
Trade for most types was almost identical to the first sale, with the best smart lambs proving dearer. Strong first-cross lambs sold into the late £60s to £70 and to £73 per head for a Texel cross pen of 50.
However, it was Beltex lambs that topped the trade at £76 with the section averaging £67.60 each. Mule wedder lambs were also up on the first sale, selling to a top of £56 to average £53.59. 
Other section averages saw Texels at £64.08; Suffolks average £60.27 and Charolais, £59.61.
Overall averages for prime lambs have also improved significantly on the week at the early live markets of this week. And, despite the laws of supply and demand, more lambs have also been sold, with the best prices achieved for heavyweight lambs. 
On Monday, England and Wales saw a 98% increase in numbers forward which averaged 198.6p per live kg for 20,614 head, up 5.6p on the week, with lambs in the 45.6kg-52kg range levelling at 204p.
It was a similar situation in Scotland too, with 4794 lambs cashing in at 197.5p, with the heavy lambs averaging 198.0p. Numbers here were up 24% with values rising a massive 12p per kg.
On Tuesday, Scottish averages rose a massive 20p, to level at 195p, with just 5% more forward, while south of the Border, some 13,496 lambs changed hands at 202p which represents a 16p price rise for 48% more, with lambs up to 52kg averaging 204p!