Market report: Sheep slaughterings down in 2010

Clean sheep slaughterings dropped by 18% in the first quarter of 2010, compared to the same period last year, according to the Agriculture & Horticulture Development Board’s UK Market Survey.

Numbers in England and Wales fell by 17%, to 2.1m head, while Scottish throughputs also dropped by 17%, to 322,000 head, and Northern Irish slaughterings declined by 30% to 78,000 head.

“Resulting from a smaller breeding flock, the numbers of lambs available for slaughter is significantly lower than last year. However, other factors may have accentuated the decline in slaughter numbers,” said the report. “Lambs may be taking longer to reach target slaughter weights as a result of the unfavourable winter. Also, firmer prices and more positive sentiment may have resulted in a larger number of ewe lamb retentions.”

Cull ewe slaughterings in the UK were 24% lower than the same time last year, at 415,000 head. “This indicates some rebuilding, or at least stability, within the breeding flock.” Average clean sheep carcass weights were 1% heavier, at 19.2kg, with adult carcass weights 6% higher at 25.1kg. “The increase in carcass weights had little influence on overall sheep meat production, falling by 17% to 59,700t.”

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