By FWi reporters
FEARS have been raised of a flood of sheep coming across the water, with the Irish ewe retention period ending nearly a month earlier than the British one.
Extra marketings could further depress slaughter and breeding stock values in this gap between 20 April and 15 May. NFU livestock chairman, David Williams, said the Irish Farmers Association told him two weeks ago that there were 120,000 more hoggets in Ireland than at the same time last year.
There was better news, however. Between 1 January and the end of last week, British hogget sales were 630,000 head up on the same period last year, Mr Williams said. And that would have more than cleared the 570,000 extra animals which Meat and Livestock Commission officials say were in the system at the beginning of the year.
David Croston, MLC sheep strategy manager, said the 28% fall in UK sheepmeat exports to France over the past two years had been arrested in January and February. Speaking at the Paris Agricultural Show earlier this week, he said shipments were 3% up despite the strong Pound, but British Meat and exporters must react to French developments on traceability and labelling.
“The new SRM rules will not be in place on 1 April, but unless our government makes concessions, the £25m a year ewe trade with France will continue to be hard hit. Buyers will not take split carcasses, and the cost of shipping live ewes on the dedicated ferry is six times that of the old roll-on-roll-off ferries.”