UK sheep meat production up during November, driven by carcase weights

Monday, 16 December 2019

By Rebecca Wright

During November, UK lamb kill totalled 1.2 million head, a similar number to in November 2018 but down just over 60,000 head month-on-month, according to Defra data. The number of ewes forwards totalled 136,000 head, down 1% year-on-year.

Carcase weights were up marginally on-the-year, reflecting the better finishing conditions of 2019 compared to 2018’s drought. Due to the number of lambs killed each month, small increases in average carcase weights can combined to have a significant impact on production.

Combined, this means production increased almost 2% (500 tonnes) year-on-year, but it was down almost 5% (1,600 tonnes) month-on-month.

During the month prices recorded one of the sharpest rises for the time of year for many years. The GB deadweight NSL SQQ averaged 410.9p/kg for the month. Reports during the month suggested lambs available to come forwards were below demand.

So far 7.8 million lambs have come forwards from the 2019 lamb crop, up 6% (440,000 head) compared to this point with the 2018 lamb crop.  Much of this increase is weighted towards the run up to the 31 October which farmers were pushing lambs forwards more quickly due to uncertainty surrounding Brexit.

In the calendar year-to date production totals 280,800 tonnes, up 7% on-the-year. This has been driven by both increased lamb kill, and also heavier carcase weights.

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