AHDB Cattle and Sheep Weekly
26 January 2015
Lamb trading remains robust
In week ended 21 January, the lamb trade at GB auction markets was largely unchanged on the week, with the SQQ levelling at 191.0p/kg. After picking up over the weekend to end Monday 19 at almost 193p/ kg, by Wednesday 21 the SQQ had dipped almost 4p to 189p/kg. This is the first indication that the positivity in the trade evident in the last few weeks could have cooled. However, lambs continue to trade around 10p ahead of year earlier levels.
Mirroring the liveweight trade, the deadweight SQQ is also still tracking above last year. At 423.6p/kg in week ended 17 January, the SQQ moved up 4p on the week earlier to be around 30p ahead on the year. R3L lambs averaged 428.9p/kg, demonstrating the reward to producers for marketing in-specification lambs. It is worth noting that, although estimates suggest that lamb throughputs were lower than a week earlier, they remained up on the year, in line with the anticipated increased number of lambs on the ground.
Lamb slaughterings up again in December
At 1.13 million head, UK lamb slaughterings in December were 5% up on the year. This continues to give evidence that some lambs have been slower to finish, given the lower than expected throughputs between August and October and the higher numbers in November and December. The uplift was entirely as a result of an increase in lamb slaughterings in England and Wales as, for the third month in a row, throughputs in Northern Ireland and Scotland were both lower than in 2013. This level of throughputs supports the expectation that there has been a notably bigger lamb crop this season. December represents the ninth consecutive month in which throughputs have been higher year on year. In the June to December period, lamb slaughterings are now up 420,000 head on year earlier levels. In the year as a whole, lamb slaughterings were up 3% on 2013 at 12.85 million head.
With less pressure to sell than in 2013, adult sheep slaughterings in December were back over a quarter on the year at 123,000 head. Despite this, sheep meat production was still up 1% on the year at 24,500 tonnes. This is reflective of the increased lamb throughputs and higher carcase weights, on the back of more favourable feeding conditions. This took sheep meat production for the year as a whole to 298,200 tonnes, up 3% on 2013 levels.
Further fall in New Zealand quota usage
New Zealand utilisation of its EU sheep meat quota fell to below 70% in 2014 and probably represented an unprecedented low. Further details in the next edition of the Cattle and Sheep Market Update, out next week.
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