Strong demand boosts lamb price

Demand for lambs at GB auction markets continues to outstrip supply, despite a 23% rise in throughputs in the week to 19 January. As a result, the combined Standard Quality Quotation (SQQ) increased by more than 6p to 180.8p/kg liveweight, according to a report by AHDB meat services.

Cull ewe trade remained reasonably firm, despite a £1 slip in average prices, to £60 a head. “Reports from auction markets indicate that the best continental specimens are continuing to break the £100 per head mark.” But deadweight trade continued to slide, dropping by 6p/kg in the week to 15 January, to an average SQQ of 387.9p/kg.

Slaughter numbers reached 1.26m in December, despite the bad weather limiting supplies. That was 9% lower than the same four-week period in 2009, with the ongoing decline in the breeding flock, and more ewe lamb retentions reducing availability.

However, ewe and ram culls increased by 2%, to 194,000. “This indicates producers may have culled out unproductive stock as the winter set in and feed remained costly,” said the report. “The increase suggests that producers may be offsetting the increase in ewes retained for first-time breeding, as documented in the June census results.”

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