news, features, articles and disease information for the sheep industry

All the latest news forSheep | Goats | Llamas | Alpaca


EU Sees Rise in Sheep and Goat Numbers

23 July 2015

EU - Good prices and favourable forage conditions are helping an increase in flock numbers and are seeing an increase in production in the EU sheep sector.

Last year production of sheep and goat meat across the EU rose by 2.5 per cent.

This put an end to the long-term fall in production that had been seen in previous years, according to the latest Short-Term Outlook for EU arable crops, dairy and meat markets in 2015 and 2016.

The UK led the way in production producing 8,000 tonnes more last year, while Romania increase its production by 31,300 tonnes.

These rises in production more than offset the fall in Spain and Italy, which saw their production drop by 6,600 tonnes and 10,000 tonnes respectively.

On farm slaughtering plays an important part in total production accounting for an average 18 per cent for sheep and 28 per cent for goats. This share is even higher in some EU countries such as Romania, Greece and Portugal.

The report says that according to the latest Eurostat figures, on farm slaughtering of both sheep and goat in Romania increased dramatically by 64 per cent and 67 per cent respectively compared to the previous year.

European agricultural policies to couple support payments to sheep and goat production in some EU countries is expected to boost production further this year.

At the end of 2014 the sheep flock across the EU was a million head more, 1.1 per cent higher, than in 2013.

Again the UK headed the list in the increase in the flock with a million more sheep last year than in 2013. The Romanian flock was 230,000 higher.

However these numbers were tempered by a drop in the Spanish flock by 140,000 and the Greek flock by 100,000. There were also falls in flock numbers in other smaller EU countries.

The EU outlook report expects sheep meat production to rise by about two per cent as Italian production recovers from the effects of Bluetongue in 2013-2014.

The European sheep meat sector has long been influenced by imports from the Southern Hemisphere, in particular New Zealand. As availability of product in New Zealand has become tighter and the sector is turning its attention to supplying the lucrative Chinese market, exports to the EU fell by 12,700 tonnes.

This slack has not been taken up with imports from other exporting countries such as Australia, Argentina and Iceland and overall there was a fall in imports into the EU of six per cent last year.

In the first four months of this year imports from New Zealand have risen by 5.6 per cent but they are still 30 per cent under quota.

The EU forecast is for imports to see a modest increase.

Heavy lamb carcase prices rose in the first four months of the year reaching €575/100kg. While they have fallen back to €520/100kg they are hitting the traditional average.

Light carcase prices rose throughout last year reaching a peak of €650/100kg, but showed a slight decline this year.

Chris Harris

Chris Harris

Top image via Shutterstock