Sterling's strength and erratic demand on the Continent may be stripping the profit from much of the mutton and lamb export trade, but plenty of shippers are maintaining volumes. Latest MLC estimates reveal tonnage to other EU markets in January and February was nearly 13% up from a year ago, despite a fall of more than 6% in UK slaughterings. The reality for abattoirs trying to serve domestic customers is even harsher than these figures suggest, as bidding for stock is intensified further by increasing numbers exported live. Medium-term supply prospects are grim. MAFF's provisional results from its late 1999 UK farm census show the flock of sheep and lambs aged up to a year was almost 10% smaller than at the end of 1998. It reported am 18% fall in the number of ewe lambs put to the ram. {{MEAT }}