Tentative recovery for liveweight lamb prices after big fall

Finished liveweight lamb prices climbed back to an SQQ average of 252.01p/kg in the week ending 9 August.

This is a 12.96p/kg rise on the previous week and puts liveweight prices up by more than 20p/kg compared with the same week last year.

Throughputs of new-season lambs at UK auction markets were up by 14% on the previous week to total 70,711 head.

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Skipton Auction Mart in North Yorkshire averaged 263.46p/kg on 8 August, up 6p/kg on the week.

Ted Ogden of Craven Cattle Marts said trade at Skipton had been strong, especially for heavy lambs or very well-fleshed, medium-sized lambs. Lightweight lambs with a good meat coverage were also selling well.

“Prices haven’t altered too much at Skipton for the past few weeks, we have stayed at about 260p/kg. We missed the low point of the market and have stayed fairly level,” said Mr Ogden.

“Throughputs have been marginally quieter during late June and July at Skipton, but the mart is expecting more lambs to come forward,” he said.

The North East has had better grass growth than many southern regions and this has given farmers the ability to hold on to sheep a bit more, according to Mr Ogden.

Grass growth

Throughputs have varied in different regions across the UK due to availability of grass, but overall average grass growth is still noticeably down for beef and sheep farms compared with the three-year average.

GrasscheckGB forecast grass growth on beef and sheep farms in north England at 30.9kg dry matter/ha/day for the week beginning 8 August, while in south England it was forecast at just 4.4kg/ha/day.


The deadweight SQQ averaged 525.6p/kg for the week ending 6 August, the most recent week for which prices were available as Farmers Weekly went to press. This was a drop of 48.9p/kg on the previous week.

This put deadweight prices below the level of the same week last year for the first time since May. Prices have fallen by more than 120p/kg during the past month of trade.

Throughputs at UK abattoirs remain below last year’s levels.

Shelley Lockett, marketing and procurement officer at livestock marketing co-op CQLP, said the deadweight lamb market fell drastically at the beginning of August by about 100p/kg at some outlets, but that prices have recovered a little for the week beginning 8 August.

Ms Lockett said: “Lamb numbers are struggling, with throughputs for finished lambs down due to lack of grass.

“Lamb sales have also struggled recently as consumers feel the squeeze. It’s a difficult balance between keeping lambs affordable but also profitable for farmers,” she said.