Farmers could be targeting a particularly strong sheepmeat export market, which looks set to reach a 15-year high during 2012 and 2013.

The breeding flock is predicted to increase by 1% a year in 2012 and 2013 meaning exports are likely to reach an all time high.

This follows an increase of 2.5% in 2011 to 14.21 million head, which resulted in exports reaching 35%. 

Prices are up on 2010 and 2011 levels but fluctuations earlier in the year which did not follow the characteristic seasonal pattern add uncertainty. 

“We’ve seen a lot of price volatility in the last few weeks, but the deadweight SQQ price has stayed above 400p/kg, which is positive,” said Ms Butcher. 

Lamb slaughterings are set to increase for 2012 and 2013, but ewe and ram slaughterings will take a hit in 2012, regaining some strength in 2013. 

Sheepmeat consumption in the UK is predicted to fall by 8,000t to 282,000t in 2012 but increase by 1,000t in 2013.

For more on this topic

See our Livestock 2012 page

Market prices and trends