Livestock 2015: Sheep farmers must focus on lamb quality in downturn

Sheep farmers must still sell lambs at their best despite the crash in finished prices, producers have been warned.

Industry leaders at the Livestock Event stressed there were still good prospects for the sector, once farmers have worked through a tough year.

Deadweight lamb values plunged again last week, with the British SQQ dropping more than 35.6p/kg to 349.3p/kg. This was 111p/kg less than the same time in 2014.

Auction prices crept up but remain way down on last year, particularly due to the strength of sterling.

See also: Grain, milk and meat price volatility: Is it really that new?

NFU livestock board chairman Charles Sercombe told Farmers Weekly that farmers still had to market lambs when they are ready.

“If farmers hit the right spec they can maximise the value from whatever their trade is.”
Charles Sercombe, NFU

He added that there was some better news with Spanish and French supplies tightening and the approach of the Islamic festival Eid al-Fitr, which normally boosts sheepmeat demand.

“If farmers hit the right spec they can maximise the value from whatever their trade is,” Mr Sercombe said.

“We need to keep moving through this year’s supply – we don’t want to push lambs back and potentially depress prices later in the year.”

National Sheep Association chief executive Phil Stocker told Farmers Weekly that producers probably had to accept this was a tough season.

He said the cull ewe and ram trade were more positive for this time of year, with store and breeding sales still to come.

“Thinking over a period of time, there is still a lot of optimism and profitability to be had.

“Within that there will be years that will be difficult, so it is going to be a matter of riding it out.” 

Read more news from the Livestock Event 2015 


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