The timing of two religious festivals in the coming years could spell good news for Irish sheep farmers.

Easter and Ramadan will be only two weeks apart for the next five years.

The two religious festivals, one Christian and the other Islamic, are important drivers of demand for lamb and having them close together in the calendar should help drive prices, according to IFA national sheep chair Sean Dennehy.

“This aligning of the calendar should drive strong demand for lamb at an early stage in the year, just as the first of the new season lamb appears on the market,” he said.

Hoggets are making €5.80/kg with some top prices of €5.90 paid and some feeders holding out for €6.00/kg. Dennehy said demand is very strong and supplies quite tight.

He urged farmers to select their stock carefully and be careful not to sell under finished lambs, adding that with Ramadan coming in early May, demand should remain strong.

The first of the new season spring lambs are out this week, with numbers expected to be very tight and prices in the region of €6.60 to €6.80/kg to 21kgs.

Dennehy said butchers and wholesalers are active and ewes are making €2.80 to €3.00/kg, up to 45kg in weight.

He described the talking down of prices by some factories as “totally unacceptable and viewed very negatively by sheep farmers.”

The kill to date this year is back 97,461 head, pointing to very tight supplies.