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UK - Livestock losses peak after worst spring in decades

Livestock losses have jumped almost 40 per cent as a result of dreadful weather conditions over the last few months.

Chairman and English director of the National Fallen Stock Company Michael Seals said the number of dead sheep and lambs stood at £373,000 in March, with dramatic losses in Scotland pushing up the figure.

Harry Johnston, co-owner of Grayshill in Cumbernauld, north Lanarkshire, said it had been an unusual year for farmers, with many losing huge numbers of livestock.

“Normally at lambing time we get about three or four bags of dead lambs, but this year everyone is averaging 20, 30, maybe even 40 bags,” Mr Johnston said.

“All the ewes are heavy in-lamb but the silage is running out and the grass is not growing. They are really struggling.”

Better weather over the last few days has prompted optimism among the farming community with some signs of grass growth, but the financial toll of deadstock is increasing.

According to Mr Johnston, the loss of one lamb equated to about £22.20, with more than 10 lambs dropping to about £15 and numbers in their 30s and 40s failing to make more than £10 each.

He said numbers of fallen cattle were also much higher than normal due to poor silage and heavy rain.

“There is no sign of things getting any better,” he added.

Mr Seals said losses in Scotland could continue to rise, ‘bearing in mind the bad weather is not over yet’.

He added: “England and Wales are not dissimilar to normal and Northern Ireland is actually less than this time last year.”

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