New records set at Kelso Ram Sales

Organisers see 'encouraging signs' in sheep trade as records tumble at annual sale

Chris Armstrong from Hexham Mart selling Texels at the Kelso Ram Sales
Chris Armstrong from Hexham Mart selling Texels at the Kelso Ram Sales

A new record price, a new record average and a new record turnover were all attained at the 2014 Cydectin Kelso Ram Sales on Friday.

Such results, however, did not come as a surprise to organisers this year as, from early on, the general opinion at the event was that there had never been such high quality rams on offer.

And, although the majority were slightly more expensive than in 2013, sellers and buyers alike expressed their satisfaction, as did the eight auction companies involved, along with organisers the Border Union Society.

Throughout the day, there was steady trade for quality sheep from all breeds and, by the end, 4271 rams - compared to 4260 in 2013 - had changed hands for a total of £2.9m, up from £2.7m last year. The average selling price, meanwhile, was £684.17, up from £635.33, with a clearance rate of 86%, up from 84.3%.

Although the event is regarded principally as a top commercial multi-breed sale, such was the quality of sheep this year - many with outstanding EBVs and genetics behind them - that many were bought for pedigree use.

One notable Texel shearling, from Peter and Lynn Gray of Scrogtonhead, Galston, in fact, made £35,000 on selling to Proctor Farms for use in a 300-head flock near Slaidburn in Lancashire.

This smashed the previous record at Kelso of £23,000, attained in 1993, for a Suffolk lamb sold by Jimmy Douglas from Fraserburgh.

Texels, overall, were the outstanding shearlings, with fifteen of the top prices within the top twenty, the average going for £6880.

The list also included four Bluefaced Leicesters (£4500) and one Suffolk (£4500).

In the lamb section, the Suffolks were not to be outdone, making 10 of the top 20 prices, with an average of £2070. Five Bluefaced Leicesters (£4000) and five Texels (£1670) also featured.

Organiser Ron Wilson, from the Border Union Agricultural Society, said: “As with most farming commodities in 2014, the sheep trade has not had an easy time but there is growing confidence in the sector, especially with exports of lamb and mutton up over 3% in the first six months of the year for the first time since 1988.

“The encouraging signs are that it is not only established markets but many new ones, especially in Africa and the Far East, who are increasing their trade with the UK. It is very satisfying when something works and goes really well.

“The 2014 Ram Sales was, luckily, one of those days. The good weather gave us the perfect build up, the quality of sheep was excellent and there is a new air of confidence in the sheep industry with exports up this year for the first time since 1988.”

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