The mart trade in recent days has been largely steady, with some sales recording hogget price increases of €1 to €2 per head.
There is greater variation in prices reported over the last week. This is stemming both from an increase in the number of heavy ewe hoggets appearing and also more variability in quality as some farmers move the final numbers or tail-end supplies.
Prices reported for hoggets weighing 50kg to 54kg range in the main from €155 to €164, with a selection of plainer-quality lots selling back to €150 and likewise top-quality lots commanding a few euro extra. As mentioned, there is an increase in the number of heavy hoggets on offer, with a number of lots passing over the weighbridge in the region of 60kg to 65kg and heavier on occasion.
Demand for these is influenced by butcher/wholesale activity and the type of hogget presented.
In sales where factory agent interest is the main outlet, top prices are settling around the €165 to €167 per head mark. In other sales prices ranging anywhere from €168 to €175 have been recorded.
Demand is being helped by purchasing for the Islamic religious festival of Ramadan, which takes place over the month of April.
The latter trading environment was evident in Athenry Mart’s sheep sale on Monday, with a top price of €175 paid for ewe hoggets weighing 68kg.
Several other lots of hoggets weighing from 58kg to 64kg sold from €170 to €172 per head. The general run of prices for hoggets weighing 52kg to 55kg ranged from €160 to €166.
Cull ewes were a sharp trade, with a handful of lots of ewes weighing from 98kg to 106kg selling from €195 to €218 per head.
Cork Marts’ Corrin Event Centre in Fermoy witnessed solid bidding from butcher and wholesale buyers. Hoggets weighing in the region of 53kg to 58kg sold from €158 to €164 for good-quality types.
There were few fleshed hoggets outside of this price range, with a few lots of hoggets weighing 47kg to 49kg selling from €153 to €159 while a couple of pens of store hoggets weighing in the region of 43kg to 44kg sold from €100 to €104 over the weight.
The trade in Ennis Mart on Monday was steady, with a top price of €171 paid for hoggets weighing 60kg liveweight. The general run of prices for good-quality hoggets weighing from 51kg to 54kg ranged from €159 to €168 per head, with some plainer-quality lots back to €155 per head. Cull ewes were also solid, with prices topping out at €197 per head.
With factories not slaughtering sheep last Thursday and Friday, they have got the required number of hoggets for Monday’s kill without having to relinquish any more power in negotiations.
Quotes remain in the region of €6.75/kg to €6.90/kg, but the majority of quality-assured sheep are trading from upwards of €7/kg.
Producer groups and regular sellers are securing returns of €7.10/kg to €7.20/kg, with top prices rising to €7.30/kg.
Some mart managers report they are seeing more heavier hoggets appearing in sales from producers who would operate mainly in drafting lambs direct for slaughter but who have reduced negotiating power and are afraid of penalties on hoggets deemed overweight.