Greater lamb numbers create trading difficulties

Hybu Cig Cymru (HCC) - Meat Promotion Wales has reported increased ewe numbers to be causing a “subdued” marketplace. 

HCC said an increase in sheep and lamb numbers was witnessed in the UK in 2014, suggesting a strong and healthy national flock.

According to the UK December Survey of Agriculture, the total number of sheep and lambs in the UK reached 22.9 million head on 1 December 2014 – an increase of 4% on the previous year. Meanwhile, some 4.08 million lambs went through UK abattoirs in the four months between December 2014 and March 2015 – 9% more than the same period in the previous year.

However, Charlotte Morris, industry information officer at HCC, said this was contributing to “difficulties in trading”.

“An increased population of breeding ewes, a good lambing season and more lambs on the ground have contributed to the recent price pressures on the spring lamb market.

“A combination of subdued demand and an increased level of production, particularly following the Easter period, as well as the strength of the sterling against the euro, have also presented difficulties in trading.”

Meanwhile, for the fifth consecutive year, breeding flock numbers also increased by 3%.

Morris added: “This combination of factors suggests that lamb producers retained their breeding ewes for this year and future production.

“Furthermore, lambs were not presented at market during November and December, and as a result, there was a larger carry-over into 2015, contributing to the additional 460,000 lambs that were reported in the December 2014 survey.”

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