Reports indicate that markets have performed positively in recent weeks, with the Islamic festival of Ramadan driving on demand and helping to continue to move high volumes of sheepmeat.

Last week’s throughput reduced by 8,756 head to 58,300, reflecting a tightening in hogget availability.

The number of hoggets in the kill actually fell by in excess of 10,000 head to 38,657.

This is still 13,440 head higher than the corresponding week in 2021, with many factory agents expecting the hogget kill to remain above 2021 levels, but still follow the normal quick seasonal decline trend.

The lower supplies combined with positive demand in export markets is helping to keep a floor under the trade.

Factories are attempting to reduce prices paid for hoggets, which is predictable at this stage of the year. However, there is variation between plants, with Kildare Chilling sticking on a base quote of €7.10/kg plus its 10c/kg quality assurance (QA) bonus.

The two ICM plants in Camolin and Navan have reduced base quotes by 20c/kg to €6.80/kg plus 10c/kg QA payment.

Reports indicate other plants have reduced their hogget quotes by 5c/kg to 10c/kg.

Regular sellers and specialist finishers with strong negotiating power are still securing returns of €7.30/kg to €7.40/kg, with isolated reports of higher being paid for hoggets meeting the desired carcase weight.

In contrast to hoggets, spring lamb numbers are running lower than in 2021, with last week’s throughput of 6,110 head up 1,226 on the week but 2,207 lower year on year.

Base quotes of €7.90/kg plus 10c/kg QA are unchanged on the week.

Regular sellers and those trading through groups are securing returns of €8.10/kg to €8.20/kg in the main.

The ewe trade is solid, with quotes in the region of €3.80/kg. Producers with greater negotiating power are pushing returns to €3.90/kg to €4.00/kg, while agents continue to command higher returns, with competition in the live trade recovering in the last week.

The number of sheep imported from Northern Ireland for direct slaughter was recorded at 5,523 head, an increase of 1,353 on the previous week.

NI quotes

Quotes are steady in northern plants, with hoggets around the £5.70/kg mark (€6.76/kg) and spring lambs at £6.20/kg (€7.35/kg), although Linden is trying to reduce prices by 15p/kg. Regular sellers and those handling significant numbers or trading through groups continue to secure an extra 10p/kg to 15p/kg from the market.

The Livestock Meat Commission reports British hoggets averaging £6.06/kg (€7.19/kg) and spring lambs at a price of £6.55/kg (€7.76/kg).