Comparisons with 2001 marketings and values are scarcely meaningful because the epidemic disrupted the trade so severely, but MLC analysis of auction sales shows new season lambs have recently been selling at up to 40% more than two years ago and are still holding gains of about 30% despite the seasonal increase in numbers. On the face of it this is not surprising because auction ring throughputs have been down by more than half for new season stock and significantly reduced even for old season lambs and ewes. Yet the supply available to slaughterers has recovered more strongly than the auction data suggest. Although the succession of bank holidays has distorted the kill figures, in April the abattoirs handled only about 10% fewer lambs and hoggets than two years previously. Delays in the finishing of lambs on farms, due only in part to the disease epidemic, are causing some scarcity at present. So it is possible the market will soften as more become available in the autumn. On the other hand, MLC forecasts of a second half kill perhaps a fifth larger than last year imply the market will remain slightly less well supplied with home produced lambs than in July-December 2000. {{MEAT }}

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