Prime cattle slaughterings totalled 181,000 head in January – a fall of 3.1%, year-on-year, according to the latest figures from DEFRA.

Although cow slaughterings were 4% higher, average carcass weights fell by 10kg, leading to a 3.3% drop in overall beef and veal production, to 81,700t. “The overall position is entirely as a result of lower supplies in England and Wales, as Scotland and Northern Ireland both recorded increased slaughterings,” said a report by AHDB Meat Services.

UK clean sheep throughputs increased by 13%, year-on-year, to 1.1m head – the highest January kill since 2009, as the large carry-over of lambs from the 2012 crop started to enter the market.

“With the carry-over of lambs expected to be somewhere in the region of 500,000 to 750,000 head, there are likely to be further increases to slaughterings in coming months,” said the AHDB report. Poor weather meant carcass weights averaged 0.6kg below last year, at 19kg, so total sheepmeat production increased by just 10%, to 26,000t.

Clean pig slaughterings increased by 1.5% on the year, to 954,000 head. A slight rise in carcass weights meant overall pigmeat production rose by 2.1%, to 80,000t.


Market report