High lambing rates boost Scottish lamb crop

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Productivity improvements have boosted the Scottish lamb crop in 2020 with the Scottish Government’s June census for 2020 indicating a lamb crop almost 70,000 head higher than last year.

“Scotland’s lamb crop now sits at just over 3.32m, an increase of 2.1 per cent,” said Iain Macdonald, Senior Economics Analyst with Quality Meat Scotland.

“A comparison against the average crop between 2015 and 2019 shows an increase of over 50,000 head. It was also the third highest of the past decade but still around 89,000 below the 2017 peak.”

Lambing rates have been trending higher over the past decade, with the four highest of the century coming in the past five years, highlighting productivity improvements made by sheep producers. The overall increase came in spite of a 0.9 per cent reduction in breeding ewe numbers to 2.45m.

“This was slightly surprising given the combination of the December 2019 census signalling a slight increase in the breeding flock at mating and the relatively good winter and spring weather.”

“Furthermore, GB ewe slaughter fell 13 per cent year-on-year between December and May. Given a year-on-year increase in prime lamb sales of 33 per cent and store lamb sales of 10 per cent in the period up to early October at Scottish auctions, an increased lamb crop is not surprising,” added Mr Macdonald.

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