UK sheep meat production on the rise – highest figures in 12 years

UK sheep meat production was up 5% in the first quarter of 2015, Eblex says.

At 69,300t this was the highest level of production in the first quarter of the year since 2002, it says.

Eblex is the organisation for beef and lamb levy payers in England and it says that lamb slaughtering numbers were up 11% at 2.97m head and these numbers drove the increase in sheep meat production.

These increased numbers of lambs carried over in the first quarter could be evident in the December census data, with many of the sheep coming from the 6% increase seen in the other sheep and lambs category in the survey, it says.

Good conditions throughout the 2014/2015 production year and the higher lamb crop drove the increased amount of lambs into production in early 2015, Eblex says.

Clean sheep slaughterings in the UK have been at high levels in the first three months of 2015 and adult sheep throughputs have been at very low levels.

Eblex says that being back 23% on the year to 356,800 head, is the lowest level seen in a long time and the second year in a row that sharp year-on-year falls to adult sheep throughputs have been seen at this time of the year.

This increased production in the UK is also a factor of higher carcase weights, it says. Clean sheep weights are up 2% at 20.1kg and Eblex says that compared to the previous year weights are well above the averages normally seen in the first quarter.

Good seasonal conditions, high forage availability and relatively cheap prices for bought in feed have contributed to the increased weights, the organisation says.

The average carcase weights of UK adult sheep were back 2% to 27.0% compared to the 2014 level, it says.

UK sheep meat production Q1 2015