AHDB Cattle and Sheep Weekly
02 September 2014
Holiday disruptions buoy trade
With the August Bank Holiday causing the usual disruptions to the trade, liveweight lamb prices in week ended 27 August were higher on the week after a period of further easing. At 164.6p/kg, the GB NSL SQQ for the week was up nearly 2p on the week. This came as supplies were evidently tighter, with numbers down 8% on the week.
While the pressure on the market may resume once the Bank Holiday disruptions are over, the trade was still higher on the week on Wednesday 27 August. At 164.8p/kg, the daily average was over 3p higher week on week, although this was little changed from the trade on the Monday and Tuesday.
The deadweight trade for week ended 23 August was still showing the general trend of the time and was lower on the week, being down nearly 4p at 376.4p/kg. This takes the deadweight SQQ to its lowest point since February 2013. However, the liveweight average for the same week was only at the lowest point since the start of October last year.
Northern Irish sheep numbers fall
Preliminary results of the June 2014 Agricultural Census in Northern Ireland show that the Irish sheep flock fell by 1% on the year to 1.89 million head. This was driven by a 3% drop in the number of breeding ewes at 889,700 head. This came as the number of ewes not bred from in the previous year fell by 10%, while the number of those that had been previously tupped fell by 2%. This follows the recent trend of a declining sheep flock in Northern Ireland.
Looking at the 2014 lamb crop, numbers were evidently higher, but maybe not to the extent that was expected. At 953,600 head, the number of lambs aged under one-year old was only 1% higher on the year. However, with a 6% drop in the breeding ewe flock as of December 2013, lambing rates were evidently much improved compared with 2013, when adverse seasonal conditions resulted in a significant drop in lamb numbers.
Chinese July imports higher once again
After June, when Chinese sheep meat imports fell for the first time since January 2012, imports for July were once again ahead of year earlier levels. At 19,900 tonnes, total shipments were 46% higher year on year. This came as shipments from New Zealand were more than double year earlier levels at 11,600 tonnes.
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