Lamb finishers saw their average margin fall over £1 to £2.66/head last season, but the industry’s top performers managed to build their profits.

The latest annual costings for 37 finishers just published by the English Beef and Lamb Executive show that the top third made a margin of £9.58/head.

EBLEX said the difference came down to production efficiency, but also the marketing of the stock, with earlier store finishers making a much bigger return.

Although the average finisher achieved a higher output per lamb and superior daily liveweight gain compared with the average top third performer, they bought their lambs for more and at heavier weights.

The more successful farmers bought lighter lambs and marketed them lighter after a shorter finishing period which produced a carcass that was better suited to the market’s demands.

Those who kept stock for longer found themselves competing with higher levels of chilled imports, keeping prices in check.