Sheep throughput is running at a much higher level than expected. Last week’s throughput was recorded at almost 62,000 head. This is an increase of 3,113 on the previous week, with numbers rising by over 7,000 head in the last fortnight.

When compared with the week preceding the Easter kill in 2021, throughput is running over 12,000 head higher.

Reports indicate similar numbers continue to come on stream and with two days’ less processing activity, factories have steadied the trade.

Hoggets dominate throughput at over 55,000 head. Base quotes range from €7.05 or €7.10/kg to €7.20/kg.

A high percentage of hoggets are trading within a price range of €7.30/kg to €7.40/kg, with specialist finishers and those handling large numbers securing returns of €7.50/kg.

Reports indicate heavy-carcase hoggets remain a significant issue in the supply chain, with factories reluctant to pay the higher prices and introducing penalties to varying degrees, depending on the producer-processor relationship.

Spring lamb quotes also remain in the region of €7.90/kg to €8.00/kg. Producers trading through groups or with long-standing relationships are securing returns ranging from €8.20/kg to €8.30/kg.

Reports of higher prices being paid are harder to come by as the week progresses. However, the trade should remain robust, with factories now turning their attention to buying for Ramadan.

Factory quotes are in the region of €3.80/kg to €3.90/kg. Sellers with significant numbers have no trouble in negotiating a price of €4.00/kg, with agents handling large numbers given extra purchasing power.

With prices easing in mart sales on the back of reduced activity from those buying for live export or to supply niche orders in export markets less active in recent days, factory agents have managed to get their hands on higher numbers.

However, throughput remains low and is in the region of 4,200 head in recent weeks.

NI trade

Spring lamb quotes in the North have opened in the region of £6.35/kg or the equivalent of €7.60/kg at an exchange rate of 83.5p to the euro.

Many producers who have traded in the last week have negotiated above the quoted price, with reports indicating a significant number of lambs are trading in the region of £6.50/kg (€7.78/kg) upwards.

Hogget quotes remain at £5.90/kg (€7.07/kg), with regular sellers and those with higher numbers securing returns of £6/kg (€7.20/kg) and higher.

The number of sheep slaughtered last week increased by over 500 head to 7,604, while exports south for direct slaughter reduced by about 500 head last week to 6,639.