AHDB Cattle and Sheep Weekly
13 October 2014
Lamb trade eases following Eid-al-Adha
As demand slowed following the Muslim festival of Eidal-Adha, prices during the latter half of week ended 8 October began to ease, despite throughputs being considerably down. While the weekly SQQ was only a penny lower than the previous week, the daily SQQs on Monday and Tuesday were 4-5p/kg lower. However, the SQQ on Wednesday was only 2p/kg lower on the week at 153.5p/kg. The stronger trade earlier in the week came as the Muslim festival of Eid-al-Adha continued to drive demand.
However, from Monday onwards demand was evidently lower as the festival had finished. Following a sharp rise ahead of the festival, numbers were well down on the week, being 19% lower. Numbers on Wednesday 8 October in particular were much lower, being down 43% on the week, which may be the reason that the prices did not fall as much as on Monday and Tuesday. Scottish sheep numbers higher The Scottish Agricultural Census revealed that, in the year to June 2014, the overall Scottish flock increased in size for the first time since 2011. By June, the total number of sheep was 6.7 million, up by 122,000 head year on year.
Better weather conditions during 2013 and the spring of 2014 improved lambing and rearing rates, resulting in a 5% rise in the number of lambs on the year. However, this follows a lower number of lambs in 2013 and, at 3.27 million head, the number this year was almost exactly the same as it was in June 2012.
These higher lamb numbers support increases in both England and Northern Ireland (with the Welsh results also expected to show some uplift when published). As such, there continues to be the expectation that UK slaughterings will generally show year-on-year increases for the remainder of the season. While the total flock has reportedly increased on the back of increased lamb numbers, the breeding component of the flock has continued to fall. At 2.6 million head, the number of ewes previously used for breeding was down 0.5% on the year.
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 4% drop on the year to 631,000 head.
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