The British are the second largest consumers of lamb in the EEC — the Irish being the greatest eaters — with consumption at around 7 kg per head per year, from a current sheep population of over 30 million. About two thirds of our 13 million ewes are kept on hill and upland farms in the west and north of the British Isles. They live on the land which is unsuitable for dairy or arable enterprises, thus utilizing extensive areas of mountains and hills, which would otherwise be unproductive. Sheep can survive low temperatures, or high rainfall, poor soil, inaccessible slopes and rocky outcrops which inhibit grass production. Ewes inhabiting these areas, provide the breeding stock from which lowland farmers, who concentrate on meat production, can replenish their stocks. Meat breeds are evolved in the downland areas of England, where a gentler climate and more plentiful rich grass make it easier, and cheaper, to produce more lambs for slaughter.
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