Hogget prices have recorded another increase to the tune of €3 to €5 per head.

This leaves fleshed hoggets weighing in excess of 50kg continuing to set price records for the time of year, with prices ranging on average from €160 to €170 per head over the last week.

The higher prices on offer are attracting significantly higher numbers of ewe hoggets on to the market. Some mart managers comment that without ewe hoggets, the volume of slaughter-fit sheep on offer would be at negligible levels.

They have also said that a percentage of ewe hoggets being offered for sale were bought on spec to give farmers an option of holding them through to autumn breeding sales. However, there are also specialist hogget producers now drafting a portion of hoggets at the higher prices which will leave supplies much tighter next autumn.

Factories are anxious to maximise throughput and start to fill orders for the Easter trade. Plants have started to quote this week for spring lamb, with opening factory quotes ranging from €7.10/kg to €7.20/kg and as high as €7.50/kg to €7.60/kg reported for excellent-quality lambs produced to tight specification.