Eblex E-News March 2012

By Suffolk Sheep Society 5th March, 2012

eFoodChainMap offers a wealth of Industry Information, UK becomes net exported of Lamb and Managing Mastitis.


Schmallenberg virus, which the latest figures show has affected 83 holdings in 14 English counties (as of 27 February) as well as a number of our European neighbours, has gained significant coverage in the mainstream media in recent days.

It will take some time to see the true impact of the spread of this disease, but it is good to see the public take an interest in this virus which is clearly having an effect in livestock production business and profitability in affected areas.

It is, however, very important that consumers get the message loud and clear that Schmallenberg has no impact on human health as it is not transmissible to humans through either meat or dairy products.  This was confirmed in a European Commission statements ratified by member states last month, and reiterated this week by the Food Standards Agency.  Unfortunately this aspect is something which many news sources have failed to highlight.

Sheep farms are so far bearing the brunt of the virus, accounting for 78 of the confirmed cases (the remaining five are cattle).  Anecdotal evidence suggests that in affected flocks mortality rates among new born lambs range from 5% to 20%. 

It is too early in the lambing season to determine whether the virus will have a significant impact on supply, however we are obviously monitoring this emerging issue with concern.  We cannot underestimate the impact of Schmallenbeg on the farmers whose animals are affected, but all that can be done is being done and the industry is better prepared than ever to cope with the impact of a disease outbreak.

Nick Allen, Sector Director

 eFoodChainMap offers a wealth of Industry Information

Comprehensive information about the red meat food chain across the UK is now just a click away thanks to an interactive online map launched by EBLEX and BPEX.

The eFoodChainMap uses Google maps technology to plot key red meat food chain data, including the location of auction markets, abattoirs, meat processors and meat traders. Where available, it shows information about the size of the business and contact details including full address and telephone number.

The map, which can be customised to suit individual needs and offers a range of different views and printing options, also includes data on breeding animal densities by region.

"This is a significant step forward for the industry, as for the first time key information about the red meat food chain is available in one place where it is easy to access and can be kept uptodate, said Dr Phil Hadley, EBLEX senior regional manager southern region.

"The eFoodChainMap can be used in a variety of different ways, making it a useful tool for anyone involved in the industry," said Andrew Knowles, BPEX head of communications and supply chain development.

"Pig producers, for example, could use it to find out which marketing groups operate in their region or beef and sheep producers could use it to find contact details for livestock markets and abattoirs in their area. It’s also a really valuable source of information for anyone wanting to know more about the structure of the red meat industry."

The eFoodChainMap can be accessed via




UK becomes net exported of Lamb

The UK has become a net exporter of lamb, according to new figures published by EBLEX.

Figures show that in 2011 sheep meat exports from the UK saw an 11 per cent increase on the year, totalling 98,500 tonnes product weight. During the same period, UK sheep meat imports fell 13 per cent to 88,000 tonnes product weight. Product weight imports have exceeded exports for the vast majority of the last 50 years.

The rise in exports last year was mainly driven by very strong demand on the continent with a number of EU member states increasingly looking to the UK. Exports to France accounted for 60 per cent with an increase of 3.1 per cent volume. Shipments to Germany and Ireland both increased by around two thirds year-on-year.

Significantly, exports to non-EU markets for the period were up 41 per cent year-on-year at 5,800 tonnes to destinations such as Switzerland, Norway, various African states including South Africa and Congo, Hong Kong and other Far East markets. Further growth in non-EU markets is also expected to drive an overall increase in sheep meat exports in 2012.

Peter Hardwick, head of trade development at EBLEX, said: “Figures for 2011 show that the UK has become a net exporter of lamb. The UK is a major sheep meat producer, the largest in the EU and third in terms of global trade behind only Australia and New Zealand.

“While becoming a net exporter of lamb is a significant milestone for the industry in the UK, exports remain largely limited to trade within the EU with non-EU exports for the period representing 5% to 6% of the total.

“The key challenge in terms of lamb exports remains access to target markets such as China, North Africa, South Africa, Russia, the USA and several Middle East markets. Population growth and growing affluence is presenting new opportunities for exports in developing markets in particular but these simply cannot be exploited without market access.”

Managing Mastitis

Lambs causing teat damage is a major cause of mastitis, according to EBLEX’s Katie Brian.

“Low body condition and/or poor feeding can reduce milk production. Lambs then damage the udder by constantly trying to suckle, which increases the disease risk,” she said.

“Acute mastitis, which can rapidly progress to death, affects between 1 and 5% of ewes a year, while chronic mastitis affects up to 15% of ewes.”

An information sheet on controlling mastitis can be downloaded here


Leave a comment