UK sheep throughput continues to run at an unusually low level, with the latest data published by the Agriculture and Horticulture Development board (AHDB) showing lamb throughput in October running at 1,107,000 head and recording an 11% reduction compared to 2020 levels. This follows a similar picture for the year-to-date, as demonstrated in Figure 1, with total production running 11% lower.

Figure 1

AHDB red meat analyst Rebecca Wright says lower throughput compared to 2020 levels was expected earlier in the year, due to lambs being drafted forward in the first quarter of 2020 as a consequence of the uncertainty arising at the end of the Brexit transition period.

Throughput for the second half of the year, however, was expected to return to more typical levels witnessed in recent years, but this has not occurred, with the October lamb kill running 12% lower than the five-year average. This is despite price running well ahead of 2020 levels in recent weeks.

The AHDB recorded the standard quality quotation (SQQ) liveweight price for the week ending 10 November increasing by 20p/kg at £2.69/kg (€3.00/kg).

The SQQ liveweight price for the week ending 9 November was recorded at £5.57/kg, which is also an increase of in excess of 20p/kg. Similar to Ireland and Northern Ireland, prices in Britain have jumped upwards this week and are running from £5.90/kg to £6.00/kg upwards. The kill at the start of November also remains significantly lower year-on-year, with throughput of 215,000 head representing a drop of 15%.