In a change to the position on the run in to Christmas over the past couple of years, the lamb trade in the UK has found considerable support in the last two months according to EBLEX.

It says prices have moved up from the low point in late September to be at the highest point recorded at this time of year since the record highs of 2011.

EBLEX report that In week ended December 17, the SQQ at GB auction marts averaged 181.7p/kg. Although back on the week before, when prices were inflated by the Christmas shows and sales, the SQQ is now consistently tracking ahead of year earlier levels and has moved up around 35p/kg since September. With more lambs being slaughtered, demand has been much better than in recent years.

EBLEX also says the cull ewe market in the UK has also performed well. With the latest week averaging £72 per head, returns were around £20 per head up on late September.

It says the deadweight trade has followed the same trajectory as the liveweight trade, also demonstrating a return to some seasonal uplift. In week ended December 13, at 422.7p/kg, the SQQ was up 13p on the week and has now moved up 65p/kg in the past 12 weeks.

At 1.17 million head, UK lamb slaughterings in November were significantly ahead of year earlier levels according to EBLEX.

It says the increase follows lower than expected year-on-year uplifts between August and October.

EBLEX says reports suggest that, although forage supplies have been abundant this year, quality may have been relatively poor. This means that lambs have been slow to finish, constraining growth through the middle of the season.

According to EBLEX the this level of throughputs continues to support the expectation of a notably bigger lamb crop this year, with the November increase representing the eighth consecutive month in which throughputs have been higher year on year.

Consequently, in the June to November period, lamb slaughterings are now up 5%, or over 350,000 head, on year earlier levels, it says.