UK lamb kill falls for the first time since March 2014

At 1.06 million head, UK lamb slaughterings in April were 4% down on levels seen a year earlier.

According to EBLEX this represents the first time since March last year that monthly throughputs have been lower year on year.

It says somewhat unexpectedly, much of the decline appears to be in England and Wales, although data for Scotland has not been updated by DEFRA.

Meanwhile, throughputs in Northern Ireland continued to be well ahead of year earlier levels.

EBLEX says for another month it looks like there continues to be little drive to reduce the size of breeding flocks, despite strong prices still being achieved in the market for cull ewes.

At 143,200, head adult sheep throughputs were back 10% on the year. However, this may be revised upwards once data for Scotland is confirmed.

For the first time since May last year, the average weight of clean sheep carcases in the UK in April was lower year on year, at 20.2kg.

Adult carcase weights were also back on the year at 27.6kg.

This, together with the fall in both lamb and adult sheep slaughterings, meant that sheep meat production was back 6%, compared with April 2014 at 25,300 tonnes.

EBLEX says with the anticipation of another large lamb crop, it is possible that the market will remain under some pressure in the medium term.

It says how demand fares amid these higher supplies will be critical to the evolution of farmgate prices in the UK.