Sheep market update: stores hold steady to end 2023

Friday, 12 January 2024

Key points:

  • Store sheep prices in GB remained elevated at an average of just over £80 per head at the end of 2023.
  • Fewer stores have come forward before Christmas compared to 2022.
  • Defra June survey showed almost 1 million fewer lambs on the ground in 2023.

2023 saw a year of steady prices for new season store lambs. GB store sheep prices saw peaks of around £83 in early July and lows of around £70 per head in early September.

Prices averaged £80 per head in the final four weeks of the year, ending 2023 at £80.59 per head for the week ending 30 December. This is growth of 14%, almost £10 per head, from the same week in 2022. December 2023 saw 12% fewer store lambs come forward to market compared to December 2022, while reports suggest demand for forward stores is higher than long keep lambs given the wet weather seen in the final weeks of the year.

GB new season store lamb prices

Line graph showing GB new season store lamb prices


Prices for store lambs remain high, despite uncertainty over finished prices looking into the first quarter of 2024. For the first week of the new year (ending 06 Jan), the GB deadweight OSL SQQ sat at 615.6p/kg, this was the highest opening week of the year recorded in over 10 years.

Data from Defra’s June survey for 2023 shows that the number of lambs under 1 year old fell by 6.1%, almost 1 million head, from the same time in 2022. This could indicate a fall in the number of lambs that are carried over into 2024. Wet weather towards the end of 2023 could have limited the finishing performance of some lambs that were held for stores. Industry commentary suggests that stores are taking longer to finish due to poor forage availability compared to 2022.  We will explore these further in our 2024 outlook.

Image of staff member Isabelle Shohet

Isabelle Shohet

Analyst (Red Meat)

See full bio

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