EBLEX has slashed its estimate of this year’s lamb crop to 15.8m head – a drop of 8% on last year due to poor conditions during tupping and lambing.
“At this level the 2013 lamb crop would be the lowest in many years, as the low rearing rate is compounded by the breeding flock being a third lower than in the 1990s,” said the report.
Slaughterings in the first quarter were up by 12% on last year, to 2.89 million head, due to the carryover of 2012 hoggets. But carcass weights were 5% down because of poor finishing conditions. “The lamb kill in the second half of 2013 and the first half of 2014 is projected to be down 7%.”
Tight supplies were likely to continue in the beef sector, with prime cattle slaughterings in 2013 set to be marginally ahead of last year, but lower carcass weights leading to a 1% fall in beef and veal production.
“Beef cow numbers were down for the second consecutive year in December 2012 and are forecast to continue this downwards trajectory in 2013.” Beef calf registrations in January and February were 11% lower than last year.