Lamb trade back above 570p/kg, buoyed by tighter supply

Deadweight lamb prices have rallied in recent weeks, with smaller numbers coming forward than this time last year.

The GB deadweight SQQ averaged 573.1p/kg for the week ending 28 October.

Deadweight lamb prices increased by 23.4p/kg during October and have extended the premium above prices at this time last year to 53.6p/kg.

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Supply is tighter, with throughputs at abattoirs down by 16% compared with this time last year. This drop in finished numbers is likely to be exacerbated in the short term, with heavy rainfall affecting finishing on farm.

At GB auction markets, trade was back slightly on the week with a liveweight SQQ of 249p/kg.

Auctioneers say buyers are reporting a slight drop in demand from the continent, which is limiting trade for smaller export grade lambs. However, heavier well-finished grades are still attracting good prices.

Leaner lambs are reportedly harder to sell as finished, and some vendors are being encouraged sell them as stores, with store lamb trade up by £3/head to average £82/head during the last week of October.

Welsh auction marts

In Wales, lamb prices at auction markets have been fairly volatile and have fallen by about £1/kg since peaking at 356.8p/kg liveweight in May. However, prices are currently still about 30p/kg above year-earlier levels.

HCC analyst Glesni Phillips said a number of factors continued to affect the sheep sector, including higher farm input costs, inflationary pressures on red meat consumers, and weather affecting grass growing conditions.

“Cull ewe prices have been more volatile in comparison with lambs and have only shown growth against year-earlier levels during the last two months or so,” she added.

Cull ewes averaged £64.90/head at Welsh auction markets for the week ending 21 October, £12.30/head higher than last year’s levels.