High throughputs weigh on light lamb trade

Poor light lamb prices are becoming an increasing concern as the main marketing period for hill farmers approaches.

The global recession has hit demand for British light lamb exports, with trade to Spain, Portugal, Italy and Greece still suffering. This has combined with the worst spring in memory and high feed prices, making finishing lambs particularly difficult.

“The price per kilo for lightweight lambs has been well below that for heavier lambs that reach supermarket specification,” said Trefor Hughes, chairman of Meirionnydd NFU Cymru. This was partly due to the higher throughputs, with light lamb trade at GB auction markets up by 20% in September, compared with last year, and superlight lambs up by 75%.

However, with the Muslim festival of Eid-al-Adha falling on Tuesday (15 October), the liveweight trade had strengthened over the past fortnight, said a report by EBLEX. The GB SQQ average rose from 163.2p/kg to 174.1p/kg, with light lambs up by 5.6p/kg, to 155.5p/kg.

There had also been an upswing in cull ewe trade, with average prices in the fortnight to 15 October rising by £1.50 a head, to £46.96. “Prices should pick up as autumn progresses,” said the report.

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