Sheep prices have increased by 20c/kg in the last week, with buying for the Easter trade gaining momentum and bolstering what is already strong demand for the Ramadan festival.

Hogget quotes increased by 10c/kg at the start of the week with a number of plants adding another 10c/kg to quotes for Thursday.

This leaves quotes ranging from €6.65/kg to €6.80/kg for quality-assured hoggets with an increasing number of producers now receiving a return ranging from €6.85/kg to €7/kg and higher at the top end of the market.

This week has also seen the opening of the market for spring lamb. Opening quotes range from €7.40/kg to €7.45/kg, plus the quality assurance payment, which ranges from 10c/kg to 20c/kg between plants. Prices paid range from €7.50/kg to €7.80/kg.

The firm appetite for sheepmeat is reflected in last week’s kill increasing by almost 14,000 head to reach 67,085 head.

Reports indicate that factories are keen to maximise throughput again this week.

Hogget prices are running in the region of 40c/kg to 60c/kg behind the corresponding period in 2022, or from almost €9 to €13 lower on a 22kg carcase.

Spring lamb quotes have started the season 45c/kg to 50c/kg lower or the equivalent of €9 to €10 per head lower on a 20kg lamb carcase.

The Islamic religious festival of Ramadan started on 22 March and will end on 20 April with buying strongest at the start and end of the festival, while buying will intensify for the Easter market ahead of Easter Sunday on 9 April.