The UK sheepmeat sector is predicting a continued tightening in production volumes.

Supplies are forecast to be 3% lower in quarter one of 2021, with this reduction expected to follow through to quarter two and quarter three, with a forecast decline of 6% and 7% respectively.

UK sheepmeat production is forecast to be tighter for most of 2021 owing to a lower carryover of 2020-born hoggets and a return to a normal drafting pattern.

The AHDB UK sheep market outlook reports the tighter supply forecast in the first half of 2021 is stemming from a relatively high portion of the 2020 lamb crop being slaughtered as new-season lamb in 2020, resulting in a smaller carryover to 2021.

Hogget throughput

Throughput of hoggets between January and May 2021 is forecast in the region of 3.6m head, some 7% lower than the corresponding period in 2020.

There is a suggestion this figure could be further affected by retention rates.

The slaughter of 2021 new-season lambs is also expected to be lower.

DEFRA June survey figures suggest a 4% decline in the 2020 breeding flock compared with 2019 levels.

Industry forecasts expect numbers will remain stable in 2021. However, they predict lamb drafting to be lower than in 2020.

This was driven by trading uncertainty attracting numbers on to the market at an earlier stage than normal, with throughput of new-season lamb in the second half of 2021 expected to return to normal levels.