Sheep meat outlook

Total sheep supplies for the first eight months of 2014 were running 2% higher, equivalent to an additional 45,000 head, than the same period in 2013, according to Declan Fennell, Meat and Livestock Division, Bord Bia.

He said that with fewer lambs carried over from 2013, throughputs during the main hogget season were back 6% on the previous year at 734,000 head. “However, in sharp contrast, new season lamb supplies reached a six year high, largely due to an exceptionally good lambing season and a plentiful supply of grass throughout the spring and summer months. For the period May to August total new season lamb supplies stood at 984,000, representing an 8% increase on last year.”

With reports of good breeding sales and brisk trade for the store lambs, there is a growing sense of optimism at farm level, he said.

“In line with this renewed confidence, it is expected that the breeding flock will increase by 2-3% to 2.72 million. On the basis that sheep disposals continue to hold strong for the remainder of the year, total throughputs for 2014 will surpass the 2.61 million mark achieved in 2013 to reach 2.7 million head by year end. With average carcase weight rising by 1% during the year, sheep meat production is forecast to reach just over 53,000 tonnes, equivalent to a 4% increase on last year.”