Hopes of lamb price recovery abound as values firm

HOPES OF a recovery in lamb prices have been fuelled by the reversal of a recent sharp decline in values.


By Friday, August 5, all grades in England and Wales had firmed fractionally to 105.6p/kg liveweight, with Scottish prices a little better at 106.7p/kg.


That was after a fall of 10p/kg last week, with traders reporting some farmers receiving just 225p/kg/deadweight for R3L carcasses.


John Thorley, chief executive of the National Sheep Association, said prices had been hit by the late availability of chilled imported lamb.


A wet July had also boosted grass growth in the west and the north, swelling numbers of finished lambs in marts, he said.


“But, if imported supplies are cleared and farmers keep lambs on to market at heavier grades later, we can expect to see some recovery,” he added.


The English Beef and Lamb Executive’s July lamb briefing estimated an extra 600,000 lambs in the supply chain this year, 4.5% more than 2004.


“Grass is abundant and farmers might consider withholding lighter lambs and finishing them to 41kgs if they have potential,” said Chris Jones of Brecon market.


Hexham auction mart’s Robert Whitelock sold 2800 prime lambs on Monday.


“The good, well-finished sheep with a bit of shape will still sell well – trade topped at 118p/kg. But lambs lacking finish are worth 96-100p/kg.”


Poorer skin prices had meant abattoirs and processors had been under pressure to recover that £3-£4 a head loss from the market, he added.

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