By Rebecca Wright

During July, UK lamb kill recorded strong growth, largely driven by Eid-al-Adha. In the month 1.27 million lambs came forwards, up 17% (183,000 head) on-the-year and 29% (286,000 head) higher than in June 2020. While some of the increase will be due COVID-19 reducing the kill back in April and May, the vast majority is likely to be due to the timing of Eid. As such, it is likely we will see a year on year decline in August kill figures.

Average lamb carcase weights were 0.3kg down on-the-year, to 19.2kg. Finishing conditions have largely been favourable so far this season. Strong prices over the month are likely to have drawn supply out earlier, reducing carcase weights.

Adult sheep kill in July totalled 152,000 head, up 2% (3,000 head) year-on-year. Average adult carcase weights recorded a sharp uplift (+1.8kg on-the-year), to 28.2kg. Although the main demand at Eid-al-Adha is for lambs meeting the qurbani specifications, there is an increase for all types of halal meat including mutton.

Driven by the increased lamb kill, sheep meat production totalled 28,800 tonnes, 14% above year earlier levels. Again, reflecting trends in lamb kill, August production is likely to be lower due to the absence of Eid.

In the year-to July UK lamb kill totalled 6.72 million head, down 4% (263,000 head) on-the-year. Meanwhile adult sheep kill is back 12% (118,000 head), to 827,000 head. Production in the year-to-date stands at 156,000 tonnes, down 7% (11,000 tonnes).

There was a small data revision included within this month’s data release from Defra. Lamb kill in April was increased by 46,000 head, while ewe kill was reduced by 46,000 head.

As was the case last month, please note that there was a lower response rate than normal to Defra’s survey. To compensate they have made greater use of the Food Standards Agency throughput data. This may impact on how within species numbers are split amongst their classifications; such as how sheep numbers are split amongst clean sheep and ewe & rams.

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