Monday, March 24, 2008

The Sheep Trade.

Been down to Welshpool Livestock Market this morning. £25 to the good. By the most extraordinary coincidence, I won a raffle prize donated by Mick Bates, Lib Dem Assembly Member for Montgomeryshire to the Grand Draw at Llanfair Caereinion Agricultural Show last September. Hadn't seen Glandon Lewis, the organiser til today, when he handed over my loot. I need some suggestions about what to spend the money on.

Prices were surprisingly good. Hoggets were about £12 over. I should explain this to those of you unfamiliar with farming terminology. A hogget is a lamb that was born last spring. The hogget trade will peter out over the next few weeks as lambs born this spring come onto the market. And the price is based on weight. For example a hogget weighing 58 kilos was making about £70 today (that's where the '£12 over' comes from.)

Another market that is in full swing at the moment is that for ewes and lambs. As found mules with one and a half lambs were making around £55. Some more explanation needed. 'As found' refers to the ewe's teeth. As a sheep becomes aged, she loses her teeth, and needs better grazing to prosper. A sheep is 'full mouthed' when she reaches 4 years, and after that her mouth is 'as you find it'. You will sometimes hear country people refer to 'mouthing' people - which means no more tha guessing their age. A mule is a crossbred sheep - in mid Wales usually applying to a cross between a Welsh Speckled-faced or Beulah mother crossed with a Blue-faced Leicester ram. The one and half lambs means that, for example a pen of 10 ewes will have 15 lambs with them, 5 singles and 5 doubles.

I was also told that the 'killer' trade was very good as, though I'd left before this market started. More explanation. This trade is for old ewes that are unsuitable for breeding again next season. The market is normally strong over the next month or so, partly because of a shortage of young lamb. When I started out in farming, old ewes were worth next to nothing, but with the arrival in the UK of people from the Indian sub-continent, they have become much more valuable.

I also called in on the cattle trade, but I think we've covered enough for this post. Now for that £25. Maybe a bottle of Sancerre to toast a Boris Johnsone victory.


Dr. Christopher Wood said...

Fascinating numbers game Glyn. How many pounds under we would get as found for Lembit?

Southpaw Grammar said...

You know what i think i learned more about farming in this post than i have about politics in all your other posts! (put tongue firmly in mouth!)

Haha, in all serious i am far more wiser about the terminology of farming, so cheers.

Frank H Little said...

with the arrival in the UK of people from the Indian sub-continent
Does this account for the difficulty in obtaining mutton, whose flavour I prefer to that of younger meat? I know of at least one organic farm which sells it direct via the Web, but the environmentally-unfriendly packaging and food miles involved have caused me to stop ordering from them.

Glyn Davies said...

Chris - No idea. Now if you're asking about Lambit, theer's a surprisingly good trade at the moment.

Frank - Don't think so. The problem with mutton, is that no-one has been eating it for years. It went out of fashion. Clearly its expensive to produce from clean sheep, because the sheep have to be kept for longer - unless its ewes that have bred. In which case there isn't the demand, except for Pakistani, Indian and Bangladeshi food. Prince Charles has been trying to support the mutton market, which is well suited to extensive farming.

Ali Barber said...

frank h little.

Just get down to your nearest Halal butcher's shop. That's where the Asians get theirs.

dowlais twp said...

sheep talk - ah well mutton grumble

Alastair Barber, known as Ali. said...

That Glyn's been naughty again.

Jenny Willott said:

"He's been a baa'ad, baa'ad, boy and he mutton do it again."

Glyn Davies said...

Farmer Glyn stops his landrover, and winds down the window to say "Hello" to the local vicar. In the back of his landrover is one of his breeding rams, which the vet has just diagnosed as impotent.

"Nice weather", says the Vicar.

"He will be when I get him home" says Farmer Glyn.

Note for townies - A wether is a castrated male sheep, over one year old. Some farmers keep one or two back for mutton.

Dr. Christopher Wood said...

Tales from the Sheep Dip

I got lost on my first car trip to Bath University. Figuring "I must be close"; I stopped and asked a man standing outside a house like he was scouting out and contemplating a break-in. The man listened to my question; seeing my earnest expression and sensing my growing despair (pre-sat-nav era), the man yelled, "I don't know where Bath is, never heard of the place. My face dropped, and then the man added, “BUT Baaaaattttthhhhhh is that way".

The man seemed to be hiding a laugh as he waved his large bloody maggot infested hand in the direction I was traveling. So I set off not knowing what my future held in the city of Baaaaattttthhhhhh. Even the sheep around Baaaaattttthhhhhh, Baaaaattttthhhhhh.

Benny Austwick said...

I'm bloody hungry now