Fears for decline in Welsh lamb population
Published:  11 April, 2013

Due to recent bad weather and flock health problems, there are fears that Welsh lamb populations will decline over the next 12 months, according to Welsh red meat promotion body Hybu Cig Cymru (HCC).

The predictions were released yesterday (8 March), despite the fact that there was a 3% increase in sheep and lamb in December 2012, compared to the previous year.

HCC industry and market information officer John Richards said: "Looking ahead in 2013, the recent heavy snowfall and freezing temperatures are expected to conspire with animal health issues, including liver fluke and the Schmallenberg virus, to result in lamb levels being significantly lower than those in 2012."

Richards said it was too early to say exactly how many ewes and lambs had perished, and that consumers should not be "unduly worried" as there would still be lambs in the shops.

He further stated that there could be a change in the dynamics of supply and demand due to these conditions, adding, "There’s no doubt that the lamb crop will be reduced this year, not only in Wales but also in England, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

"As is common with the reset of the UK, the increase in the number of lambs in December 2012 can be attributed to the poor weather earlier in the year which resulted in difficult finishing conditions and lower slaughter numbers in the first part of the season. Also, the lamb crop in 2012 was slightly higher than 2011. This led to more lambs being on-farm as of December as producers were still trying to finish them."

However, due to Easter arriving early this year, total March slaughterings are expected to be up again.