The UK sheep market is going through an uncertain period as retailers are considering switching to new-season products or staying with old-season hoggs.
Quality Meat Scotland head of economic services Stuart Ashworth said: "This year, of course, the process has been complicated by the slow growth rates of new-season lambs and the negative impact of the Schmallenberg virus on early lambing flocks, particularly in southern England, and the higher volumes of hoggs available late into the season."
Despite the challenges faced, there is a positive outlook for the industry, and hogg slaughterings in March were 9% higher than at the same time last year.
Additionally, the first quarter of the year showed a 12% higher overall slaughtering compared with the first quarter of last year.
"This trend continued through April, with auction sales being more than 20% up and, in some weeks, being more than 40% up. However, most of these hoggs have been marketed at lighter weights, so although slaughterings in March may have been up 9%, the weight of bone-in meat produced was only 3% higher," said Ashworth
Lamb has become more popular amongst consumers after the horsemeat scandal, which is a positive sign, according to Ashworth.