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More Scottish Lambs, Ewe Numbers Still Shrinking

14 October 2014

SCOTLAND - Better weather has seen Scotland's sheep numbers increase for the first time since 2011.

Breeding numbers continued to slip meanwhile, settling slightly lower than in 2013 at 2.6 million. 

This assessment appears in the Scottish Agricultural Census for 2014 which tallied overall sheep at 6.7 million for 2014, largely driven by improved lambing and weaning rates coming from a better spring. 

Lamb numbers lifted five per cent supported increases in England and Northern Ireland, said EBLEX analysts. 

However, EBLEX added: "It followed a lower number of lambs in 2013 and, at 3.27 million head, the number of lambs reported to be on the ground was almost exactly the same as it was in June 2012."

Slaughter is therefore expected to run higher for the remainder of the season, but breeding ewe numbers have continued to fall. 

"While the total flock has reportedly increased on the back of increased lamb numbers, the breeding component of the flock has continued to fall," added EBLEX.

Summarising the long term breeding ewe trend, EBLEX analysts said: "This continues to represent a long term decline in the flock, and is unlikely to stop in the short term as the industry continues to struggle with profitability and CAP reform is likely to result in lower support payments.

"The number of ewes that are expected to be used for breeding for the first time reflects this, showing a four per cent drop on the year."

TheSheepSite News Desk

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