THE barbecue weather is supporting some meat sales like beef burgers and sausages, while putting others like lamb under pressure. That, along with increased supplies coming to the market, is one of the reasons the price of lamb has dipped in recent weeks.

Another effect of the heat wave is that grass growth has slowed, and on lighter land is starting to burn. While most first cuts of silage gave reasonable yields, and there has been some really good, light crops of hay made, the prospect for a decent crop of second cut silage now depend on rain.

With good grazing in short supply, livestock farmers will need to plan very carefully how they use their grass over the coming months. Some may decide to sacrifice silage for grazing, and others vice versa. Others, looking to the coming winter may opt to cull less-productive breeding stock, sell store cattle earlier, or slaughter lambs at lighter weights. Another way of reducing pressure on scarce fodder supplies is to consider the cost benefit of sending sheep and cattle away for the winter.

Such decisions are all part-and-parcel of running a farm, but last November Rural Secretary Fergus Ewing created a new management tool in the form of the Weather Advisory Panel for the agricultural sector.

When triggered, the panel will act as a task force for rapidly sharing information, best practice and encouraging co-operation across the industry to help farmers and crofters respond effectively to challenging weather conditions, both in the short-term and in building longer-term resilience.

It met for the first time in December, then in January, April and at the Royal Highland Show in June. I believe it is to meet again in late July/early August as it continues to monitor the situation. To date I have seen little evidence of it being anything more than a talking shop. In my opinion the best farmers can hope for is that it leads them in a rain dance.

Market round-up

C&D Auction Marts sold five prime heifers in Dumfries yesterday to a top of 234p per kg and an average of 220p, while a couple of prime bullocks peaked at 215p and levelled at 214p.

In the rough ring 14 beef cows averaged 128p and 35 dairy cows levelled at 113p.

The firm also sold 491 prime lambs to a top of £106 per head and 250p per kg to average 195p (-29p on the week).

The 324 cast sheep forward saw heavy ewes sell to £144.50 for a Texel and average £82, while light/export-type ewes peaked at £74.50 for Blackfaces and levelled at £51.

Messrs Craig Wilson Ltd sold 723 prime lambs in Newton Stewart yesterday to a top of £108 and 218.2p to average 200.2p (-18.9p).