Despite claims British meat exporters have already lost sales to the continent due to the lack of clarity surrounding Brexit, prime sheep sales are holding up well on the back of reduced supplies with old season lamb prices improving significantly on the week.

Furthermore with the reduced 2018 lamb crop, and a late Easter, prices are expected to improve further.

On Monday, overall old season lamb prices sold through the live ring in Scotland rose 7.3p per kg on the week, with the SQQ improving 9.0p, to level at 187.2p and 196.2p, respectively.

Values increased further on Tuesday too with total number in Scotland cashing in at 190.8p, up a massive 13.9p on the previous seven days, while the SQQ improving by a similar amount at 13.1p, to average 195.1p.

Prices south of the Border have followed the same trend, with values on Monday balancing at 190.0p (+6.2p) with an SQQ of 200.9p (+8.7p) while those sold in England and Wales on Tuesday levelled at 188.7p (+7.3p) overall while the SQQ average was 199.5p (+8.5p).

The other similarity has been the huge drop in numbers cashed with supplies both in England and Wales and at Scottish livestock markets showing total headage forward down week on week.

On Monday, overall numbers sold through Scottish centres were almost 20% down on the week, with Tuesday's figures falling 11%, which compares to those cashed in the south that slipped 7% and 8% respectively.

"There will always be a good demand for the good quality lambs and export-type lambs, because the numbers are just not there," Archie Hamilton, head sheep auctioneer at Lawrie and Symington's Lanark Agricultural Centre, told The Scottish Farmer.

"Demand for export-type lambs has never dropped because the supplies to meet demand on the continent are not there when most of New Zealand and Australian lamb has been sold into Asian markets.

"It's the number of over fat, overweight lambs on the market that can pull down the overall trade in this country," he added.

That is exactly what happened the previous week, coupled with a 3% increase in numbers, when the GB liveweight old season lamb price fell by a penny to average 191.27p per kg on the back of 39% of throughputs changing hands outwith the SQQ 'spec.

The ewe trade also appears to have improved on the week, which Mr Hamilton pointed out is also due to reduced supplies.

"Ewes have gone dearer this week because there are less about. It's all about numbers at the end of the day," he said.

Stuart Ashworth, director of economic services at Quality Meat Scotland also highlighted the reduced lamb kill in the UK and Ireland in the first two months of the year.

“The weekly lamb kill in the UK during January was 7% lower than last year and has continued to be lower into February,” said Mr Ashworth.

“Similarly, in Ireland, since the turn of the year, abattoir throughputs have averaged 11% lower than last year with an even bigger decline in recent weeks.”

However, he added that slaughter rates for other European countries have seen the opposite.

“In contrast to the UK and Ireland, France reported an increase in domestic slaughterings during December and January and Spain saw a rise in sheep slaughterings in December,” he said adding that such supplies would point to a sluggish demand for British and Irish sheepmeat.

“The increased domestic supplies in France contributed to France importing less sheepmeat than a year ago during December, and it is likely that French import demand has remained sluggish through January.

As a result, he said most European producers have seen a reduction in prime lamb values over the past month, with prices in Ireland down 4% over the past month, and those in Spain, France and Germany, slipping 4.5%, 3% and 7% compared to the same time last year.