Wool prices are back on the agenda again, with some farmers who took a chance on delaying wool sales earlier in the year now clearing sheds to make way for housing lambs or ewes.
Unfortunately, the trade remains unchanged, with lowland wool trading from 15c/kg to 20c/kg.
The higher price is generally being paid for larger volumes or for wool delivered to depots in prime condition.
The trade for so-called grey or black Scottish Blackface wool is typically in the region of 5c/kg. There are occasional higher prices reported for white Scotch wool, but this is not reported on a regular basis.
Where wool is being retained over winter, the advice is to make sure wool is stored in a manner that ensures quality is not compromised.
This includes packing clean, dry wool that is free from daggings, soiling, etc, in a wool pack and storing these packs off the ground on a pallet or similar set-up that prevents any dampness.
It is also important to ensure that packs are not located in a position where rainfall or dampness will come in contact with wool, such as beside vented sheeting or close to doorways or under a roof canopy.
British Wool sales
The latest British Wool auction took place on Tuesday 7 November. The sale report cited that demand remained strong, with prices firming on the previous sale.
Prices for fine, medium, Mule, Cheviot and Cheviot-cross wool was reported as 3% to 5% dearer, while Blackface and Welsh Mountain were 2% dearer and Swaledale was steady.
A significant factor underpinning a more positive tone to sales is significantly lower volumes of wool on offer.
The most recent sale included just 1,136t spread across 155 lots. This compares with a normal entry of 1,500t at this time of year.
The sale achieved a 96.7% clearance, with the five lots unsold all comprising of mountain wool, echoing the challenging trade for mountain wool in all areas.
The lower offering in the British Wool sales this season is being influenced by the volume of wool expected to be in the region of 10% lower. This is being driven by lower fleece weights and reduced sheep numbers.
British Wool reports that the volume of wool sold to date is in the region of 6,500t or 30% of the supply for the year.
More improvement needed
While sales have been brighter in the last two months, British Wool states that farmers still need to see significantly better returns to entice all producers to present their wool for sale.
It added that the returns received mean that farmers are still some way off being able to cover the costs of shearing.