Meat & Livestock News

UK’s Beef and Lamb Yields Dip in 2023, Weather Plays Spoilsport

In 2023, UK farmers faced a bit of a tough patch with beef and lamb production. Beef numbers went down by 2.5%, and lamb wasn’t far behind with a 1.8% drop. It seems the weather wasn’t playing ball, making it tricky for farmers to get their animals market-ready.

Beef’s Bit of a Bother

The beef scene saw a bit of a slump, with production totalling 901,000 tonnes – that’s about 23,000 tonnes less than the year before. December was particularly bleak, hitting the lowest December production in over half a decade.

The average weight of the beef carcasses dipped to 342 kg, the lightest since 2018. The prime slaughter count dropped to 2.04 million head, and the cow kill was down by 16,000 to 612,000 head. Looks like the wet weather threw a spanner in the works, especially in the latter half of the year.

Lamb’s Not So Rosy Picture

Over in the lamb department, production totalled 286,000 tonnes, down by 5,300 tonnes from last year. The average clean sheep carcass weight nudged down a bit to 19.8kg. The number of clean sheep slaughtered was up just a smidge to 12.28 million head.

But December was a low point, the lowest since 2019, and it seems the wet weather was a bit of a party pooper. The adult sheep kill was down by 2.5% to 1.65 million head, and the sheep flock as of June 2023 had shrunk a bit too. December throughputs stayed on an even keel from November, breaking the usual growth trend seen in these months.

Defra’s numbers paint a picture of a challenging year for the UK’s beef and lamb producers, with the weather playing a bit of a lead role in the production story.