The latest sheep market update reported by the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) shows that the volume of sheepmeat produced in December 2022 was recorded at 26,000t.

This represents a 6% increase on November 2022 levels and a 1% increase on the year previous.

This brings the total volume of sheepmeat produced in 2022 to 275,800t, an increase of 3% on 2021 volumes, but 6% lower than the five-year average.

However, it must be pointed out that the market report cautions that the AHDB has queried DEFRA’s published slaughter figures and “continues to work with industry and DEFRA to resolve issues arising from the data set”. This gives the impression that the figures reported above could be subject to change.

Higher throughput

The higher production level was underpinned by higher throughput rather than any significant increase in carcase weights which remained steady at an average of 20.2kg.

The lamb / hogget kill in December increased by 7%, or 1.2m head, on November 2022 levels and 5% when compared with throughput figures in December 2021.

UK sheep production increased in 2022, but remains significantly lower than the five-year average.

Total throughput of lambs / hoggets increased by 3% to 12.1m head, as detailed in the bar chart. This represents a decrease of 6% compared with the five-year average.

The ewe and ram killed was recorded at 1.2m head, which is 4% up on 2021 levels, but 19% down on the five-year average.

This goes some way in explaining why there was a firm trade for ewes and rams in recent years.