With changing markets, consumer demands and the uncertainty of Brexit, production efficiency and a good nutritional strategy will be key in 2020.
Stable breeding ewe numbers are forecast 13.9 million head. Lamb numbers are forecast to decline by 2% (~400,000 head) to 16.6 million head. Most of the decline can be attributed to the reduction in the size of breeding flocks. Longer term, lamb is forecast to be more stable at around 16.5 million head.
The importance of nutrition for good lamb performance has been key in 2019. Grass growth was good throughout the summer. However since then fields up and down the country have had more than enough rain his autumn, putting many underwater.
Due to a large amount of rain, some fodder and cover crops are in a poor condition this winter. Other parts of the country are reporting plentiful supplies of fodder crops.
Production during Q3 totalled 81,000 tonnes, which is up 4,700 tonnes year-on-year (Defra). There has also been an increase in carcase weights.
From Jan-Oct an estimated 6.6 million lambs from the 2019 crop were slaughtered which is an increase of 7% and marginally above the five year average.
To ensure the best outcomes this lambing season, it is important to be prepared and have the right nutrition in place to help properly support ewe performance in the weeks leading up to lambing.
Father and son, Michael and Matthew Rees, farm at Cefngwyddil, Cross Inn in West Wales, running 1000 ewes; a mixture of Welsh Mules and Suffolk Cross Mules.