New life has been injected into the sheep trade this week as tighter supplies mean factory agents are actively chasing hoggets.

Processors initially tried to capitalise on a small backlog of hoggets which developed after snow and ice disrupted supplies last week. But attempts to buy hoggets from a base of 490p/kg to 500p/kg failed as farmers refused to offload sheep and deals of 520p/kg were quickly back on offer.

With hogget prices rising 20c/kg in the Republic of Ireland, it has helped fuel more competition in NI marts. Local factories had little option but raise base quotes to 530p/kg and offer deals to 540p/kg in order to keep pace.


Factory prices for prime cattle continue to edge upwards, with 470p/kg now widely available, which is 20p/kg above official base quotes for U-3 grading animals.

Numbers remain tight and farmers offloading cattle are in a strong negotiating positon, especially if they have the option of moving animals through the live ring.

Cull cows are also benefitting from increasing demand, with good-quality beef cows making anywhere from 390p to 420p/kg.

Upbeat on sales

The general mood from within the beef trade is very positive, with product selling and chills largely empty.

There were fears that January would be a write-off, given the cost squeeze on consumers, and negative publicity directed at the industry by the annual veganuary campaign. However, when asked to describe sales, the words used by sources in the trade include “very good”, “flying” and “very solid”.

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