May continues the trend in UK sheep production

Thursday, 10 June 2021

By Rebecca Wright

During May UK sheep meat production declined 7% on the year to 19,100 tonnes, according to the latest Defra data. There was a decline in both lamb and adult sheep slaughter.

During May the key UK sheep meat production trends were:

  • Lambs
    • Kill: 833,000 head, down 6%
    • Carcase weights: 20.0kg/head, down 0.2kg
  • Adult sheep
    • Kill: 79,000 head, down 17%
    • Carcase weights: 30.3kg/head, up 2.8kg

Old season lamb supply is now coming to the end. In total over the past five months around 3.4 million old season lambs have come forwards. This is around half a million fewer than on average in recent years. This is partly due to more lambs being slaughtered ahead of the UK’s exit from the EU, and possibly due to higher numbers of retained ewe lambs.

During the same period a broadly typical number of new season lambs have come forwards (discounting 2018), at around 825,000 head. Total combined year to date lamb kill was therefore reduced at 4.2 million head.

Adult sheep kill so far this year is down almost a quarter at 440,800 head. This decline was weighted towards the earlier months

Total UK sheep meat production so far this year stands at 98,700 tonnes, down 9% (9,700 tonnes) on the year. Over half of this decline was in January when exports to the EU were at their lowest, although production in subsequent months has also been lower.

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Rebecca Wright

Senior Analyst - Red Meat

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