The recent increase in factory prices and increased activity by agents in sourcing supplies has had the desired effect for factories in encouraging higher numbers forward.

Last week’s throughput was recorded at 58,855 head, which represents an increase of 4,021 on the previous week and a major year-on-year increase of 16,501 head or a 39% lift.

The kill breakdown includes 53,653 hoggets, 4,078 ewes and rams and 1,124 spring lambs.

The increase in hogget numbers has allowed plants to steady prices this week following increases of 10c/kg to 15c/kg last week.

Base quotes remain in the region of €7.00/kg to €7.20/kg. However, the majority of quality assured hoggets are trading upwards of €7.15/kg to €7.20/kg, with many producers handling small numbers and selling individually securing returns of €7.20/kg to €7.30/kg.

Higher numbers

Producer groups and finishers with higher numbers are receiving returns of €7.35/kg to €7.40/kg, while at the higher end of the market, specialist finishers and those handling large numbers are pushing prices to €7.50/kg, with some reports of 5c/kg to 10c/kg higher paid.

Some of the higher quotes also relate to lighter hoggets, with factories voicing concerns about the number of heavy-carcase hoggets in the kill profile.

Kildare Chilling is implementing an upper price of €160 for hoggets killing at 25kg carcase weight or higher, with other plants imposing penalties of 30c/kg.

Spring lamb quotes

Quotes for spring lambs range from €7.80/kg to €7.90/kg in the main. Starting prices for quality assured lambs is typically in the region of €8/kg. The potential to negotiate higher depends on the producer-processor relationship and the number on offer.

Groups are being offered returns of €8.10/kg, while producers with long-standing relationships or producing U and E grading lambs to a tight specification are in cases securing 10c/kg to 20c/kg higher.

Wholesalers and butchers are paying anywhere from €8.20/kg to €8.40/kg, with some reports of higher, while the mart trade is a good alternative outlet.

Cull ewes remain in strong demand, with factories lifting quotes by 10c/kg again this week. This is witnessing more ewes trading at a price of €4/kg, with top prices for ewes traded in large numbers 15c/kg to 30c/kg higher.

NI figures

Last week’s sheep kill in Northern Ireland reduced by almost 700 head to 7,075.

The number of sheep exported south for direct slaughter reduced by 715 head to 7,168.

Hogget prices have lifted to £6/kg (€7.19/kg) with regular sellers securing 10p/kg to 15p/kg higher.

Opening lamb quotes of £6.35/kg (€7.61/kg) are 30p/kg to 45p/kg lower than in 2021.