English sheep flock records a decrease

Friday, 25 September 2020

The English sheep flock, as recorded by Defra’s June Survey, was down by over 2% on year earlier levels at 15.0 million head.

The number of lambs on the ground under one year of age was down by 1% at 7.7 million head. We were expecting this year’s lamb crop to be somewhat smaller than in 2019, and these initial figures suggest this was indeed the case.

Within the total, the female breeding flock is reported to have contacted by 3.5% to total 7.0 million head. The flock had been largely steady back in December, compared with the year before, but still relatively small compared to recent years. However, we have been expecting some further contraction, at least partly driven by Brexit-related uncertainty. It remains to be seen how this will translate through to numbers later in the year, and across the UK as a whole. This current level of contraction is perhaps on the higher side of our expectations.

England accounts for under just under half of the overall UK sheep flock. While these trends give an indication of the likely position of the country as a whole, a fuller picture will be available when the other regions publish their figures later in the year.

 

Bethan Wilkins

Senior Analyst - Red Meat

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