AHDB Cattle and Sheep Weekly
02 March 2015
Lamb trade continues to edge up
With prices at GB auction marts tracking just above last year’s position, the lamb trade has continued to demonstrate a degree of positivity over the past week. In week ended 25 February, the SQQ was up 2p on the week at 191.8p/kg. Since the turn of the year the SQQ has moved within a fairly narrow range as the trade appears to have been very finely balanced, with only small changes in throughputs having an effect on prices. With moderately fewer lambs forward every day this week so far (Monday to Wednesday), the SQQ has levelled each day around 192p/kg, between 1p and 5p up on the same three days last week.
In week ended 21 February, the deadweight SQQ edged up another penny to average 425.7p per kg. With Easter on the horizon, deadweight lamb prices have hit a sevenmonth high point, mirroring the robustness in the liveweight trade. This is likely a result of strong domestic demand as well firm export demand, which is somewhat promising in light of a stronger exchange rate between sterling and the euro.
Lamb slaughterings up again in January
At 1.14 million head, UK lamb slaughterings in January were 8%, up on the year. This continues to support the industry’s expectation of a notably bigger lamb crop this production season. With more lambs having been carried over into the first quarter of this year, January represents the tenth consecutive month in which throughputs have been higher year on year. In the June to January period, lamb slaughterings are now up around 500,000 head on the same period in the 2013/14 production year. Notably, the uplift was entirely as a result of an increase in lamb slaughterings in England and Wales. With the lower impetus to reduce breeding flock sizes continuing, UK adult sheep slaughterings in January were again lower on the year, being back 24% at 140,000 head.
Clean sheep carcase weights have been well above seasonal norms last year, with many months having the highest average in the last seven years. This has come as seasonal conditions have generally been favourable, with forage availability high this year, while prices for bought in feed have also been relatively low. Combined with the increased lamb throughputs, the continued higher weights in January offset the lower adult kill and production was up 3% on the year at 26,300 tonnes.
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