‘UK sheep kill exceptionally low in September’

The UK sheep kill for the month of September has been described as being exceptionally low for the time of year.

The Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) said that the lamb kill for September stood at just over one million head – which was back 16% year-on-year.

Furthermore, the ewe kill fell by 15% to stand at 108,000 head for last month.

Why is the sheep kill down?

Indications from the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (Defra) June survey suggest that the lamb crop for 2021 has fallen by 3-4%.

However, in Scotland, the opposite story is being seen, with the lamb crop on the rise.

The findings, as of now, are only provisional, with the full results, the AHDB said, unavailable until December.

The sheep kill, in the UK, for the last two months has been “significantly below what would be expected”.

Up to and including September, 8.3 million lambs have been processed – which is a fall of 11% or 1.07 million lambs on the previous year, the AHDB said.

Rebecca Wright of the AHDB said: “It is hard to know if the lambs are still out there or not.

Looking at the June survey data for England and Scotland, combined with Defra slaughter data, would suggest there are a significant number of lambs still available for production.

“However, the buoyant store lamb prices, and strong finished prices suggest that supply is not quite so plentiful.”

‘Ewe kill suspiciously low’

Furthermore, the UK ewe kill was described as “suspiciously low for over a year now”.

The ewe kill up to and including September for this year is back 22% or 237,000 head and stands at 854,000 head. However, the AHDB noted that the decline recorded in Defra slaughter figures is not reflected in cull ewe throughput at marts.

Looking at UK sheepmeat production for September, it stood at 23,000t. For the year to date, production stands at 190,000t – back 25,000t or 11% on 2020 levels.