Market Report: Dearth of spring grazing checks lamb numbers

Supply of new-season lambs to auction markets has been slow, with a shortage of good-quality grazing slowing growth rates, says the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board‘s latest report.

“Since the beginning of April, total throughputs at GB auction markets are more than 40% lower than in the corresponding period last year, at just over 80,000 head.”

Prices have been consistently higher than last year as a result, although greater numbers in the past forthinght and weakening retail demand pushed new season liveweight lamb prices down by 23.7p/kg in the two weeks to 25 May, to an average SQQ of 205.5p/kg.

UK lamb and adult sheep slaughterings in the first quarter of 2010 were 16% below last year, at 3.4m head. “This may indicate some rebuilding, or at least stability within the breeding flock.”

With the changeover from old-season to new-season pricing, average SQQ deadweight values jumped last week (w/e 22 May) to 459.9p/kg for an R3L lamb – 21.3p/kg above the same week last year. However, the weaker pound is eroding UK competitiveness, says the report.

“This has impacted on the price of British lamb on the French market, which has benefited Irish exporters.”