By FWi staff

FINISHED lamb prices plummeted at livestock markets this week – despite a drop in the numbers of animals sold.

Wet weather in July slowed growth rates and reduced quality, resulting in smaller lambs and lower returns. The economic crisis in Russia has also pressured values.

Prices fell by a further 10p bringing the average price to 82.48p/kg compared with 113.78p/kg this time last year. Returns are down by about £15 per lamb on 1997.

Buyers are cautious about paying too much for lambs after the experience of last season. But the poorer quality of some store lambs is also a factor behind the lower prices, reported the Meat and Livestock Commission.

The fall in value of the Russian Rouble continues to blight the sheep skin market and Russian demand for skins continues to slump. As a result, the price of skins has fallen from £8 each to about £6 with further falls expected.

The majority of UK sheep skins are traditionally sent to Morocco and Turkey for tanning before going to Russia. But the devaluation of the Rouble has resulted in cancelled orders and a backlog of supplies is now building up.