The Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) continues to report that the UK lamb kill is running in the region of 10% to 11% behind the corresponding period in 2020.
The number of lambs coming on to the market during November was recorded at 1,121,600 head. This equates to a reduction of 11% on November 2020 and 10% on the five-year average.
The ewe kill recorded an even greater percentage reduction, with throughput of 87,300 head running 22% lower year on year. Combined, production during November was recorded at 24,700t or 10% lower than in 2020.
AHDB red meat analyst Rebecca Wright reports that almost 90% of the UK sheep kill takes place in England and Wales and, as such, throughput there has also fallen by the greatest level.
Figure 1 displays lamb throughput for the last six months compared with the corresponding period in 2020.
This captures the main drafting period for 2021-born lambs.
Wright reports that between June and November, the number of lambs coming on to the market has been recorded at 6.3m head, 13% lower than in 2020.
She says that lower throughput was expected in the second half of 2021 due to producers pushing to get more lambs drafted in 2020 ahead of the end of the Brexit transition phase.
Expected reduction in lambs
The industry would expect a bit of a year-on-year decline as last year lambs were pushed forward early ahead of the end of the Brexit transition period. Even withstanding this fact, the sheep kill in 2021 is running at a lower level than expected.
The Defra June survey data showed contraction in numbers in England and Wales but not to an extent that would be responsible for the lower kill in recent months.
This suggests that there could be higher numbers than anticipated carried forward to the new year that is provided numbers are not revised downwards in the December livestock survey.