Lamb numbers still climbing
A SHORT week for markets did little to deter buyers from securing new season lamb as numbers continue to build.
The Easter holiday trade was already wrapped up for many, but buyers are just breaking into full swing promoting new season supplies after a late start. Daily averages from the Meat & Livestock Commission illustrate a marked fall in numbered entered late last week, but almost 8500 were sold live last Monday to average 126.2p/kg.
Lighter lambs are very much in demand, although most producers are still pushing for maximum weight to gain the highest return, say auctioneers. Best lambs at around 34-38kg liveweight have been returning about £50/head with prices rising to a maximum of 140p/kg at centres in the south -similar to last year.
Retail processors reiterate their call for lighter lambs to allow smaller joints to be marketed at an attractive price to consumers. Ideally, many are looking for carcass weights of under 19kg. Numbers secured for the big supermarkets are starting to edge up with several looking to increase volumes for display by the first or second week of May.
If demand can be sustained in the later market, prospects should be good. Early indications from the MLC are of fewer lambs in the north and Scotland, but a good start in Wales and the south-west. However, the inclement weather has done little to ease sheep producers concerns with high lamb losses being reported in a number of areas
Overall, the drag of a declining number of quality hoggs – particularly in the south – has puled down the weekly SQQ from 107p/kg to 102p/kg, adds the MLC. *