The tightness of spring lamb supplies has been reflected in sheep kill figures in recent weeks, with spring lamb throughput to date back nearly 41,000 head on last year.

Sheep throughput figures released by the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM) show that 40,961 (18%) fewer lambs had been processed up to the week ending June 11, compared to last year.

This has been the theme of the year so far; hogget numbers had been making up the shortfall for the first few months of the year, but supplies of hoggets have been falling rapidly in the last six weeks or so, to the point of now being as good as gone.

It’s been a strange and tough year in terms of grass growth; a tough spring in terms of unfavourable weather, and unforeseen input price increases partly as a result of the war in Ukraine, leading to less fertiliser being spread on farms and less meal being fed to lambs.

These factors look to have slowed lamb performance on many farms, which would link up with supplies being – so far – behind compared to last year.

On a brighter note, Bord Bia has said that reports from meat processing plants indicate that lambs coming forward for slaughter are of very good quality.

Bord Bia added that as the year progresses, lamb supplies are expected to increase; with breeding ewe numbers up in 2021, along with good scanning and low mortality rates, it should all contribute to a larger lamb crop.