Small numbers edge up lamb prices

By FWi staff

LAMB prices continue to rise as the numbers coming forward remain lower than many in the industry expected.

At markets around England and Wales, many auctioneers are becoming sceptical at the Meat and Livestock Commissions prediction that there are still four million lambs to come forward in the first quarter of this year.

“If they are there, weve not seen them,” said one auctioneer.

But MLC economist Jane Connor insisted that the original predictions were right. “Im sure theyre there,” she said.

“The problem is that the finishing rate has not been good,” said Ms Connor.

The lower number of lambs seen at markets on Monday (1 February) was due to uncertainty caused by the Meat Hygiene Service inspectors strike, she said. “If the lambs arent there I dont know where theyve gone.”

Lamb values rose again at markets this week by over 2p to average 74.79p/kg.

Quality is improving as well, said auctioneer Stephen Burley of York market. “Producers have started to finish their lambs inside,” he said.

This was echoed by auctioneer Richard Dance, who said that lambs had been better finished at Reading market on Monday.

“Nothing is changing as far as prices are concerned, its more that the lambs are better finished which has affected the market,” he said.

Values were up between 3-4p/kg at the market, and medium lambs were up 10p on last week at 79.12p/kg.

Demand is good at present, and the mood around the ring is less depressing, said one auctioneer. “Theres been a degree of buoyancy since we saw the dramatic increase in store lamb prices,” he said.

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