How do you get the best price for your lambs? Focus on the buyer. Deliver what they want, when they want it and you’ll make the greatest financial return on your flock. This isn’t as easy as it sounds, but use proven methods to market your lambs and you could reap the rewards.
Different buyers want different things. Your task is to identify a market you know you can satisfy and breed sheep that fulfil the need. No matter how fine your flock, it is only worth what a buyer is willing to pay. To illustrate this point, let’s consider three common buyers:
Abattoir owners have no time to waste; their prime concern is speed and efficiency. They want clean meat that arrives for processing in a timely fashion and doesn’t take long to process. For example, they don’t want business slowed down by trimming away excess fat.
Retailers have to satisfy their clientele. Major supermarkets now sell half the meat we eat and to do this successfully they must know what their customers like. They track buying behaviour and know exactly what you need to deliver for them to stay at the top of their game.
The end consumer is focused on their own dinner table. The meat they feed to their families must be safe and enjoyable. They’re looking to buy from retailers they can trust and for a retailer to be seen as reliable they must offer a consistently good experience with each meal.
When you understand your buyer’s agenda it’s far easier to satisfy their needs. Sales are quickly lost if you’re hit and miss on delivery or there simply isn’t a market for your lamb. Your best bet is to identify a few different markets you can target to never be out of pocket.
If you sell at livestock markets here are some tips to push up your profits:
Make a good first impression
Looks do matter. If sheep are clean and have been handled with care they are a better buy than underweight sheep covered in bruises. You should have a worming and vaccination plan in place and good feed management to produce healthy-looking sheep for sale.
Markets are a fantastic opportunity to network and increase your number of connections. You never know which of them might lead to a tip off or sale. Find out which markets are best for your target buyer and do your research; be smart about where you invest your time.
No matter what’s going on in your local market it’s still important to observe wider trends. How healthy are current liveweight prices and what’s the average retail price right now? Check up on buying history and look out for general news that might influence a buyer’s decision.
Don’t miss the boat
Sell as soon as your sheep are ready. Keeping them on the farm is costly and if they already meet every expectation of your buyer, sell without delay. After all, the end buyer should determine everything you do. Keep them happy and you should be satisfied too.
For further information please refer to the product SPC, or contact your veterinary surgeon or Zoetis UK Ltd, Walton Oaks, Dorking Road, Walton on the Hill, Tadworth, Surrey, KT20 7NS. Customer Support 0845 3008034. www.zoetis.co.uk. Always seek the advice of your medicines provider. Use medicines responsibly (http://www.noah.co.uk/responsible).
Dave is an RCVS advanced practitioner in Sheep Health and Production. He qualified from the Royal (Dick) Veterinary College in 2004, working mainly as a production animal veterinary surgeon, until joining Zoetis (previously known as Pfizer Animal Health) in 2010 as an Area Veterinary Manager. In 2015 Dave joined the Zoetis National Veterinary Manager team.
Dave’s areas of interest are the health and production of sheep and the sustainable control of parasites in farm animals. He is the chair of the NOAH anti-parasitics committee and sits on various national cross industry bodies including the sustainable control of parasites in sheep (SCOPS) board.
Dave is from a farming background and still manages his own flock of pedigree Texel and commercial mule sheep on the Welsh-Shropshire border.