Heavier lambs help producers recoup costs

Farmers are finishing lambs to much heavier weights this year, with better weather and feed availability than last season.

“In addition, having paid considerably higher prices for store lambs, finishers may have been looking to recoup this expenditure by adding additional weight to their lambs,” said a report by AHDB Meat Services.

In the week to 24 March the number of heavy lambs (45.6-52kg) at GB auction markets represented almost 28% of total throughputs, while those over 52kg accounted for 11%. That compared to 24% and 6%, respectively, at the same time last year.

Average prices for heavy lambs were lagging well behind lighter weights, at 19p/kg below the SQQ average, with those over 52kg some 40p behind. “In the corresponding week in 2011 heavy lambs traded 8p below the SQQ while those weighing over 52kg were 25p/kg below the SQQ.”

However, overall SQQ values were still well ahead of last year, and the heavier weights meant farmers were still receiving high values per head, at an average of £94 for heavy weights and £98 for those over 52kg. “There are numerous reports of old season lambs breaking the £100 a head barrier.”

Market Report