Lamb production low in November

Thursday, 16 December 2021

By Rebecca Wright

According to the latest Defra data 1,121,600 head of lambs came forwards during November. This is 11% fewer than a year ago and 10% down on the 5-year average. Meanwhile, ewe kill for the month was recorded at 87,300 head, down 22% on-the-year. Just under 90% of UK sheep kill takes place in England and Wales, and therefore naturally much of the decline can be attributed there.

Low UK lamb slaughter in 2021

Production during the month totalled 24,700 tonnes, down 10% on-the-year.

Between June and November 6.3 million lambs have come forwards, 13% fewer than last year. We would expect a bit of a year-on-year decline as last year lambs were pushed forwards early ahead of the end of the Brexit transition period.

Defra has revised some recent months’ data. The largest revision was for September, which saw lamb kill restated with an increase of 43,500 head. Despite these revisions, recent sheep kill for both lambs and ewes in the year-to date does look to be on the low side, especially in England and Wales. Based upon the available June survey data, although there was contraction in English lamb numbers, it appears the number of lambs available to kill from the 2021 lamb crop would be similar to that in other recent years. Even if we allowed for a significant decline in the crop, we would still have expected lamb kill to be higher than it has been, based upon historic kill patterns and levels.

The next AHDB outlook for the lamb market will be published at the end of January 2022.

Click here to take a look at the Defra slaughter data which is available on the AHDB website.

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