Sheep sector production to continue to rise in 2012 and 2013

The sheep sector is set to see a continued rise in production, according to a forecast from the Agriculture & Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) and Eblex.

The increase in lamb numbers, which has stemmed from a larger breeding flock and higher carcase weights is contributing to increased production, which could continue throughout this year and into 2013, said Eblex.

Eblex also said the strong performance was helped by an increase in domestic production as well as a decrease in imports. An increase of 2.5% in the UK’s breeding flock in December 2011 along with further growth this year has also strengthened the sector.

However, Eblex said the volatility of the prime market so far this year has created some uncertainty for producers. This has resulted in previous forecasts for breeding growth of 1.5%, being decreased to 1% each year. The lambing rate for 2012 is also expected to have been slightly higher than in 2011 and, coupled with the larger flock, this could lead to lamb numbers hitting their highest since 2008, said Eblex.

According to Eblex, while more lambs are expected, poor weather conditions over recent months have “seriously checked any progress”, which has led to the shortage of finished lambs in June and July.

The first five months of this year also saw exports remaining strong, with a recorded growth of over 2% on the year, and Eblex said trade figures for May indicated an increase of 5%.

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