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Stackyard News Feb 08

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Lower Supplies Likely for Sheepmeat in 2008

A number of factors will combine to reduce supplies in the UK sheepmeat market in 2008, according to the latest annual outlook from the English Beef and Lamb Executive (EBLEX).


ewe and lambs

At a total of 316,000 tonnes, UK sheepmeat production in 2008 is forecast to be 8,000 tonnes (nearly 2.5%) down on 2007 - however, farmgate prices may not strengthen sufficiently to offset recent feed and other cost increases for many producers.

With Defra’s June 2007 agriculture survey showing the national breeding flock down 3.4% on 2006 and lambing rates in the current year expected to be somewhat lower than last year’s historic high of 115.6%, the number of lambs available for slaughter in 2008 is forecast to be nearly 200,000 (1.4%) lower than 2007.

The reduction in the breeding flock over the past year is also likely to reduce domestic mutton production. Assuming the ewe culling rate remains similar to the level recorded in 2007, slaughterings are, indeed, set to be 60,000 head (2.8%) below last year.

The backlog of lambs caused by last autumn’s FMD restrictions now seems to have been all but cleared, thanks to higher slaughterings in November, December and January, buoyant consumer demand and the removal of nearly 250,000 light lambs from the food chain in Scotland and Wales under the welfare disposal schemes. This paves the way for less early season market disruption than may have originally been feared.

The relative weakness of sterling against the euro and declining sheepmeat production across Europe also suggests fairly healthy export prospects for the coming season. At 78,000 tonnes, annual exports in 2008 are predicted to rise by around 11.5% (8000 tonnes) on 2007. This will, of course, depend on current exchange rates being maintained and no significant decreases in European consumption taking place.

UK imports in 2008 are expected to increase slightly by 3,000 tonnes on 2007 to a total of 133,000 tonnes. This suggests a 5,000 tonne more favourable balance between imports and exports than last year – driven by a lack of Irish supplies and New Zealand exports limited by quota.

link Breeders Group Calls for Radical Change to Lamb Marketing
link Beef Market Fundamentals Set Fair for 2008
link Builth Wells Ram Sale to be Three-Day Event

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