UK sheepmeat production is forecast to exceed 300,000t for the first time in five years, research from Eblex has shown.

Higher lambing rates and a bigger breeding flock should increase the lamb supply for the rest of 2014 and into next year, the levy board predicted.

The lamb kill is expected to be 5% up on the year at 13.1 million head and carcass weights should be heavier, which will offset a fall in adult slaughterings.

Total production is projected to hit 302,100t in 2014 and 303,600t the year after.

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“With a larger breeding flock and better lambing rates, the supply of lambs for the remainder of 2014 and into 2015 should be higher, so total UK sheepmeat production is forecast to increase,” said AHDB/Eblex senior analyst Paul Heyhoe.

“However, this is still not a return to pre-2010 supply levels and with exports broadly strong, lower imports and domestic consumption set to be largely level, the supplies of sheepmeat of the UK market are expected to be broadly in line with an increase in domestic demand.”

Eblex’s analysis is based on a 14.5 million head breeding flock in December 2013 growing slightly into 2015.

The national average lambing rate is forecast to reach 122% in 2014, up from 117% the previous year.

On the demand side, exports are expected to rise 4% in 2014, accounting for more than one-third of total production.

“While increased availability should drive volumes, there are concerns over the economic situation in some European markets and unfavourable movement of sterling against the euro,” Mr Heyhoe said.

“However, this influences prices rather than total volumes.”