FAIR to middling might sum up the chairman of the National Sheep Association Scotland’s view of trade just now.
Heriot producer Jimmy Sinclair of Crookston was commenting on the state of the sheep industry this week in advance of the Kelso Ram Sales, seen by many as a yardstick for the annual autumn tup sales around the country.
Commenting from St Boswells mart on Monday, Mr Sinclair said: “The store trade has been slightly less than last year, but maybe better than a lot of people thought.
“Prime lambs are running slightly in front of last year, though they’re back maybe a bit today.
“Breeding stock seems to be back a bit on last year, but still holding their own.
“It’s better than a lot of people envisaged though we would prefer it not be back at all because costs are spiralling.”
Prime lamb prices could take a knock because there’s been such a big influx, he said.
“For a lot of people, especially hill places, they only have maybe two or three sales a year so there might be a bit of worry where things might go. But when lambs are ready you have to sell them.”
There is also concern that some farmers who may have been buying now are still busy trying to harvest or otherwise catch up with jobs the wet summer has delayed.
But Borders and north-east producers may be later bringing their lambs to market: “We had horrific weather at lambing time and the weather since has not been sheep friendly and lambs are not as far forward as they could be.”
But come next Friday, the ram sales, everybody will be looking at 2013 and the cycle begins again, he said
“Good sheep are going to get a good price and rightly so and I imagine there will be something for everybody. There will be plenty of good sheep to go round – and plenty of sheep to go round full stop!”
NSA Scotland works with the UK-wide NSA to further the interests of sheep farmers and the sheep industry in Scotland.