The sheep trade continues to be supported by strong buying for the Ramadan festival.

Demand is being helped by a significant tightening in supplies, with hogget numbers especially under pressure over the last week.

This added extra competition to the trade and pushed prices upwards by 10c/kg to 20c/kg at the end of last week.

Producers with large numbers on hand and trading on a regular basis secured returns ranging from €7.80/kg to €8/kg, with prices at the lower end of the range in some cases also including allowances on transport costs.

Sellers with lower negotiating power and handling smaller numbers were also capable of pushing prices above €7.70/kg and, in many cases, also secured a price of €7.80/kg, with agents careful not to miss out on any potential sales.

Mart trade holds firm

The mart trade is holding firm, with hogget prices rivalling those paid for spring lambs and giving farmers a real viable alternative outlet.

Heavier hoggets weighing in excess of 50kg are trading anywhere from €170 to €184, depending on quality, with a few lots of very heavy hoggets weighing in excess of 60kg selling in cases for €2 to €4 higher.

Some of these high prices are for ewe hoggets purchased by farmers, with plenty of appetite for good-quality hoggets with breeding potential.

Spring lamb trade

The spring lamb trade is a bit more variable, with demand steady. Prices in some mart sales have eased on Monday on the highs recorded last week.

There is also variability in the factory trade, with prices in recent days ranging in general from €8.20/kg to €8.40/kg and in some cases hitting as high as €8.50/kg.