Poor wheater conditions took the toll on Welsh sheep numbers
Welsh national sheep flock has declined by 5% during this year, according to the results from the ‘June Survey’ of Welsh agriculture, released last week. Data shows that the total number of sheep and lambs in Wales has fallen by 5% in 2018, to 9.53 million.
There has been a steady increase in the national sheep flock over the past decade to 10 million in 2017. This year’s fall is being widely attributed to climatic factors which have made the past twelve months a particularly difficult period for Welsh farmers.
The Welsh lamb crop was therefore down by 6% in 2018, in line with figures released in October for England (which showed a 1% fall) and Scotland (8%).
Glesni Phillips, an analyst for Hybu Cig Cymru – Meat Promotion Wales (HCC), said, “The fall in Welsh sheep numbers in 2018 is not unexpected. There were reports that the poor conditions experienced during last autumn and winter led to lower scanning results. This, followed by the arrival of the ‘Beast from the East’ during lambing meant that a decrease in the number of lambs was anticipated. Throughput numbers at abattoirs during the months that followed also reflect this – lamb throughput so far this year is currently 3% below previous levels. This year has undoubtedly brought extreme and challenging weather for Welsh livestock farmers, with a wet winter being followed by a cold snap during peak lambing time, and a very dry early summer.”
Beef cattle numbers in Wales are stable, in line with recent patterns. In 2018 the beef breeding herd stood at 166,600 according to the June Survey, a fall of just 0.7% year-on-year.
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