By Colin Slessor, senior auctioneer and deputy head of livestock at Aberdeen and Northern Marts, and a member of IAAS.

The prime lamb trade in the first quarter of this year has remained steady but has never reached last year’s animated levels.

Throughout January and February at Thainstone Centre, prime lambs averaged 180p per kg and increased in March to level at 190p, with a further rise to just short of £2 per kg in April.

Export weight lambs have been in fairly short supply in the area and have been keenly sought after however, the favourable spring has resulted in an abundance of heavyweight types which have been selling at reduced levels, often cashing in at less money than lambs 10kg lighter.

While prime lamb numbers have been back on the year, the centre has still maintained a strong level of support from a traditional finishing area, with numbers peaking at 7079 head on April 11.

Store lambs have continued to be in strong demand throughout the season, exceeding sellers’ expectations and week on week, have performed better than the prime lamb trade.

The trade for feeding ewes began to show signs of improvement throughout February but never quite hit the high levels which our customers hoped for. Top-quality pure-bred and heavy type ewes cashed in between £120 and £140, while the best of the Mule ewes forward realised £75-£80, with top Blackface ewes selling to £70.

We are now in the midst of the annual ewe/hogg with lambs at foot sales, which in this area we sell at price per head, rather than per unit. With us now gearing up for our fourth weekly sale on Friday, May 3, demand has been promising so far but there is no doubting that last year’s record levels will not be met.

Younger and stronger type ewes with lambs at foot are trading in the region of £70, while the best of Mule cast ewes with lambs at foot are peaking at £55-£60. Top-quality ewes with single lambs have been selling in excess of £80.

As we enter May, sheep producers in the north and North-east have been blessed with better weather during the lambing season, and this has resulted in decent numbers of lambs on the ground.