Breeding sheep trade has been subdued this year, with producers still reeling from the costly winter and continued uncertainty over prospects for next season.

In the four weeks to 17 September, shearling ewes in the “other” category of sheep (most of which are mules or other crosses) averaged £118 a head – £13 below the same period last year. Upland shearlings were down by almost £25, to £147 a head, said the latest EBLEX report.

“However, with producers looking for the best value for money, quality ewes have still been in firm demand, with plainer sorts more difficult to place,” said the report. Lowland shearlings showed a marginal price drop on the year, with hill shearlings the only category increasing in price.

Finished lamb prices continued their downward trend last week, losing another 5.5p/kg, to average 390.5p/kg for a GB R3L grade. That was 141.1p/kg below the peak reached at the end of May, and just 1.7p/kg higher than the same time last year. Liveweight values improved, by more than 2p/kg, to an SQQ average of 164.8p/kg; 3.1p higher than last year.

Lamb slaughterings in August were broadly unchanged on the year, at 1.05m head.

Meat processors squeeed by tight margins