Prime lamb prices have taken a turn for the better this week across all live centres, with the trend looking to continue over the coming weeks as there’s been a fall in the number of lambs entering markets.

With the latest live sales average in Scotland down by 2160 head on the week ending October 28, values have been on the rise, with liveweight new season lamb prices in Scotland achieving a 1.34p increase.

It’s a similar story south of the Border, with auction marts witnessing a liveweight price jump of 10p to average 209.55p on the week ending November 4. This currently stands at 32p above the 2019 price mark and almost 42p up on the five-year average for this time of year.

On the flip side, there is a less positive story regarding deadweight prices, with the GB new season lamb deadweight price slipping by 5p on the week ending October 31, to cash in at 436.1p.

Scott Donaldson, joint managing director at Harrison and Hetherington’s Borderway Mart, at Carlisle, commented: “We have seen a rise in prices last week but, unfortunately, we witnessed a small decline this week in the live ring. The market has also welcomed an 80% increase in the number of prime sheep being sold through the ring, which has softened the trade a little.”

“The main concern is not with the price of lamb but with the operators and abattoirs. A lot of these processors are struggling with a decrease in staff numbers due to being hit with the Covid-19 virus. One of Britain’s biggest processors is based in Wales and they’ve been hit quite badly by the virus.

“However, there has been a rise in demand for the best quality export types at Borderway, which is backed up by customers buying store lambs to meet the export lamb trade,” he added.

With sheep prices across all markets proving better this year, the trend is expected to remain firm right through into November and December, as well as at the turn of the new year.

“The market witnessed a good trade at our recent prime sheep sale, last Thursday, and prices seem to have steadied now. Demand for lamb has been strong throughout the year and this is no exception now as there is a need for more supplies following the rise in prices,” said George Purves, managing director at United Auctions, Stirling.

“I believe prices will remain up until end of the year. Usually, once we reach the end of November, there is a good demand for lamb in time for Christmas celebrations, so we do expect that again this year.

“I don’t think customers in Europe will want to be left high and dry with empty hooks after the turn of the year, so lamb should be sought after going into December.”