28 November 1997

Irish carryover likely for lamb

LATEST figures show lower-than-expected Irish lamb slaughterings, suggesting a big carryover of hoggets into the New Year will be seen.

And this, in turn, could put further downward pressure on British prices, already well below the levels of last season.

On Monday, England and Wales sample markets averaged 98.48p/kg.

Lambs in Ireland were kept to make use of the plentiful summer and autumn grass, suggests the Meat and Livestock Commission. Buoyant store prices also meant farmers sold stock as stores, rather than for slaughter.

By the beginning of November, slaughterings in the Irish Republic at meat export premises were nearly 14% down on the same period last year. Thats equates to more than 385,000 lambs.

The lamb crop there, however, is thought to be similar to last year, with improved productivity helping to offset the 1% decline in the breeding flock as at Dec 1996, according to the MLC.n