Last week’s sheep throughput of 52,729 head cleared the 50,000 head mark for the first time since the turn of the year. While this represented an increase of 5,801 head on the previous week, it was 5,082 lower than the corresponding week in 2020.

The lower weekly kills have been a trend throughout 2021 with year to date throughput of 1,001,500 head running some 78,855 head, or 9%, lower than in 2020.

Production is likely to be back to an even greater degree with average carcase weights running behind comparable 2020 levels, especially in recent weeks. This is being driven partly by farmers moving lambs earlier due to market uncertainty and also by slaughter performance being negatively affected by poor weather and grass growth rates.

This week’s trade has steadied somewhat after last week’s cuts although factories are fearful of further pressure in export markets.