Statistics from the Division for Atmosphere, Meals and Rural Affairs’ (Defra) newest livestock survey has proven English sheep flock numbers to be at their lowest in 12 years.

The Defra survey reveals the English sheep flock has declined 3.2% year-on-year, totalling 14.5 million heads in June 2023 – that is the bottom recorded inhabitants since 2011.

The feminine breeding flock noticed a discount of 116,000 heads (-1.6%) to face at practically 7 million heads in June 2023.

this by class, the Agriculture and Horticulture Improvement Board (AHDB) stated there was a “notable enhance” in breeding ewes supposed for slaughter, up 8.8% in comparison with the identical interval final 12 months.

This was countered by declines within the variety of ewes supposed for first time breeding (-8.3%) and ewes supposed for additional breeding (-1.3%).

Whereas a decline versus final 12 months, the variety of ewes for additional and first-time breeding was comparatively stage with numbers recorded in 2021.

“Declines have been additionally seen in the remainder of the English flock, pushed by a discount of 4.9% (364,000 head) in lambs aged beneath a 12 months previous, in comparison with the June 2022 survey,” AHDB stated.

“Ram numbers did see a slight enhance of 1.2% year-on-year alongside a rise of three.5% of different sheep one-year-old and over.

“These reductions proceed the overall development within the whole English flock seen since 2017.”

AHDB stated trade challenges are effectively documented, together with:

  • Enter price fluctuation;
  • Modifications to direct funds;
  • Agricultural coverage and authorities assist schemes;
  • Shopper buying developments.