Lamb throughputs lowest for 20 years

The number of finished lambs sold through auction markets last year was the lowest since 1980, according to a report by AHDB meat services. At 6.3m head, throughputs were 7% lower than in 2009. This was mainly due to the declining national flock, although stronger prices and greater confidence had also boosted ewe lamb retentions.

Restricted supplies pushed the combined average SQQ lamb price up by 25p/kg in the year to May, at 195.9p/kg. New season lambs were also significantly dearer than in 2009, although the differential narrowed from August onwards.

“In December, for the first time in 2010, the monthly average SQQ, at 174.2p/kg, was lower than in 2009.”

Prime cattle throughputs totalled 325,000 head in 2010, down 3% on the year. “While steer and heifer throughputs fell, the number of young bulls increased by 11%, as more male dairy calves were reared.”

Liveweight cattle prices were lower than in 2009, due to greater supply, subdued demand and higher imports, said the report. “The differential has narrowed in the last third of the year, and in December the average price was actually higher year-on-year at 159.4p/kg.”