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AHDB Cattle and Sheep Weekly

05 May 2015

EBLEX Cattle and Sheep Weekly - 5 May 2015EBLEX Cattle and Sheep Weekly - 5 May 2015

Lamb trade continues to fall

Old season lamb prices at GB auction markets eased again in week ended 29 April, with the OSL SQQ down 9p at 175.6p/kg. This has increased the difference, compared to the same period last year, to 31p. This is despite numbers in the corresponding week of 2014 being over 20% higher, although this could have been due to some restocking last year following the later Easter period. This means that the daily OSL SQQ has been trending below week earlier levels for over two weeks. Notwithstanding this, prices did steady somewhat as the week progressed, with the SQQ on 29 April showing the smallest week-on-week fall in over two weeks. Numbers of old season lambs coming forward have started to tail off slightly as the season moves towards the switchover, but they do still remain high.

The new season trade has continued to pick up pace, with lambs coming forward in increasing numbers in week ended 29 April. Throughputs were up 14% on the previous week. Combined with the high number of old season lambs being marketed, this contributed to prices falling. The NSL SQQ fell 14p to 206.9p/kg, 40p below the level seen in 2014 and the same price as that received for old season lambs in the equivalent week last year.

After showing more stability than the liveweight market last week, the deadweight lamb price also fell sharply in the week ended 25 April, being back over 28p on the week earlier to 417.2p/kg, 59p/kg lower than the same period in 2014.

The cull ewe market has also come under some pressure in the past few weeks, reflecting the falling price of lamb. Until recently the cull ewe price had been tracking at record levels. However, the GB cull ewe price has fallen to £73 per head, £16 per head below levels seen just two weeks before. Despite this, in a historical context cull ewe prices are still high.

High lamb supplies set to continue

Lamb slaughterings have been high in the first few months of this year as the remainder of last year’s bumper lamb crop comes to the market. With a larger breeding flock recorded in the December survey and seasonal conditions good once again, latest AHDB forecasts anticipate another large lamb crop. Consequently, high supplies are set to remain the norm for the rest of this year. At the same time, cull ewe numbers, which have been very low over the last year, are likely to return to more normal levels. As a result, sheep meat production is forecast to rise by 6%, compared with 2014, to the highest level for seven years. While increased exports may mitigate this growth to some extent, there will be more sheep meat on the UK market over the coming year. How this impacts on the market will depend on demand but it seems likely that prices will remain under some pressure.


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