Ewe sales remain strong at Alberta sheep sale

Organizers of Genetic Impact Ram and Ewe Sale in Westlock say above average prices show the industry is doing well

WESTLOCK, Alta. — Organizers of an annual sheep sale in northern Alberta say sales for ewe lambs and yearlings were well above average, remaining steadily high due to strong demand.

At the Genetic Impact Ram and Ewe Sale in Westlock in mid-August, gross sales were up by 21 percent compared to last year, according to Lorri Lyster, a breeder from Halkirk, Alta., and one of the organizers of the event.

Notably, two Canadian Arcott ewe lambs went for $700 each and two Suffolk yearlings for $1,100 apiece. The average price for the 28 registered ewes and ewe lambs was $667. For commercial ewe lambs, it was $475.

“Overall, sales for the females were crazy,” Lyster said.

“It’s promising for purebred sheep producers in Alberta, showing that there is enough confidence in the industry. A lot of these rams and lambs go for commercial production, and lamb prices have been holding steady.”

Ram sales at the event, however, were mixed. A couple of Suffolk lambs went for $400 each while one Suffolk yearling was sold for $1,025. The average price for the 40 rams that were sold was $660.

“There was a little more fluctuation with the rams this year,” Lyster said, noting that she sold one of hers for $450, which was below its reserve of $500.

“I brought him here to sell and for someone to get good lambs out of him. So at $450, he was theirs.”

Buyers at the event didn’t seem fazed with the higher-than-normal prices.

Lana Beamish, who farms in Jarvie, Alta., bought a Hampshire yearling ram. She said the sellers did well, which indicates there is optimism for the industry.

“The prices were good for the sellers, that’s for sure,” she said. “I got a good price on the Hampshire. Most people didn’t want that one because he’s bigger, but for me, that was great.”

This is the third year that organizers have put on the Genetic Impact sale. It is a private event held by a group of breeders, but they also allow guest consigners.

Having a sale north of Edmonton was much needed, Lyster said, because the only other two breeding stock sheep sales in Alberta are in Fort Macleod and Olds.

She said a lot of people who are getting into sheep live in northern parts of the province and a lot of her sales are going to producers in the Peace region.

“A lot of sheep are going north,” she said. “They’re going to the south Peace, Birch Hills, Donnelly and La Crete.”

For Beamish, having the sale close to home is beneficial.

“Going all the way down south is time consuming and hard on the animal, so to have it here for us is great,” she said. “We support it just to support it.”

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