Sunday 12 August 2012
Sheep trade in great shape
Sheep sector production is forecast to continue to rise for the rest of this year and into 2013, writes Peter Hall.
Increased lamb numbers stemming from the larger breeding flock and higher carcass weights will contribute to continued increased production in the sheep sector for at least the next 18 months.
That is the essence of the latest forecast from Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board market intelligence and from the industry body, the English Beef and Lamb Executive.
The strong performance of British sheep meat exports is also due to continue – helped by increased domestic production.
Imports are expected to continue falling further in 2012, with some stabilisation expected in 2013.
Following on from the strong 2.5 per cent growth in the domestic breeding flock in December 2011, further growth is expected over the next two years.
But the volatility of the prime market so far in 2012 has created some uncertainty for producers.
This has resulted in the expected growth being revised downwards from previous forecasts, with breeding numbers forecast to grow one per cent each year rather than the previous expectation of one and a half per cent.
The lambing rate for the 2012 lamb crop is expected to have been slightly above 2011 levels.
This, coupled with the larger flock, could lead to lamb numbers hitting their highest level since 2008.
While more lambs are expected to be on the ground, poor weather conditions over recent months have seriously checked the progress they have made.
This has resulted in some shortage of finished lambs in June and July, as producers have struggled to finish animals.
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