Supplies of slaughter-fit hoggets and spring lambs have tightened significantly this week, leaving several factory agents struggling to meet throughput requirements.

While local plants are quoting 570p/kg for hoggets, by midweek, deals were being done at 590p/kg to keep pace with the marts.

Numbers have also tailed off south of the Irish border, pushing agents buying for Irish plants to offer deals of €7.40 to €7.50/kg for NI sheep, which converts to 590p to 600p/kg.

As supplies of hoggets near an end, local plants are becoming more reliant on spring lambs to maintain throughput. Again the availability of lambs is limited.

Quotes remain on 620p/kg, but deals of 640p to 650p/kg were on offer mid-week to entice numbers on to the market.

US market

Meanwhile, another step in the process of resuming exports of UK sheepmeat to the USA has been cleared.

“The UK has now reached agreement on a veterinary health certificate for the export of sheepmeat to the USA,” a UK government spokesperson told the Irish Farmers Journal.

It follows US authorities lifting a long-standing import ban on UK sheepmeat in January 2022.

The “small ruminant rule” was put in place back in 1989 due to concerns about scrapie and BSE.

With the import ban lifted and a veterinary health certificate now agreed, the next step in the process is for individual factories to be approved by US inspectors.

“Facilitating these exports will present huge opportunities for farmers and industry across the UK, with exports of lamb alone estimated by industry to be worth £37m in the first five years of trade,” the UK government spokesperson said.

The Republic of Ireland is moving at a similar pace to the UK in getting sheepmeat shipped to the US. A ban on imports from the EU was also lifted earlier this year and the Irish government announced last month that a veterinary health certificate had been agreed.

The relatively small market for sheepmeat in the US is growing, as figures from Bord Bia indicate that imports have increased by 60% over the past six years. New Zealand and Australia made up 98% of sheepmeat imports to the US during 2021.

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