The hogget trade has burst into life, with factory quotes up by another 10c/kg and mart prices rising anywhere from €5/head to €10/head.

Athenry Mart’s sale on Monday saw 10 of the 47 lots on offer exceed the €180 mark, rising to a top price of €189/head.

Such prices were paid in the main for hoggets weighing 52kg to 54kg, with a couple of lots above this weight range.

Lambs weighing 48kg to 50kg topped the €170 mark, selling in the main from €170 to €177/head. Numbers on offer were well back on recent weeks, with upwards of 30 fewer pens of sheep on offer.

Kilkenny Mart auctioneer George Candler reported top prices in Monday’s sale hitting €190/head for a batch of 14 hoggets weighing 56kg. Other standout prices included €181 paid for 55kg lambs, while a number of lots of quality hoggets weighing 50kg to 54kg sold from €170 to €179/head.

Pick of the prices

The pick of prices for lighter hoggets included €174 paid for 13 hoggets weighing 48kg. Lighter lots weighing 44kg to 47kg increased in price by upwards of €10/head, with the best-quality lots selling from €150 to €159/head.

The sale was again helped by a relatively small entry of 400 head.

The sale entry was also much lower in Ennis Mart, with 300 head on offer. The mart reported that there were very few butcher-type hoggets on offer, with those that were meeting super demand.

A batch of six super-quality hoggets weighing 56kg hit €189/head, with the €180 mark hit on other occasions. Demand was such that fleshed hoggets weighing 45kg to 47kg sold from €160 to €163/head.

Factory quotes

Base lamb quotes have increased from 10c/kg to 20c/kg. Kildare Chilling and Dawn Meats are reported as topping the price table with their base quotes of €7.20/kg plus the plants' 10c/kg quality assurance payment.

The two Irish Country Meats plants in Camolin and Navan are quoting a base price of €7.05/kg plus 20c/kg QA. These two plants have also lifted their paid carcase weight limit to 23.5kg, which is a good sweetener with prices at a high level.

A significant differential has opened up between prices at entry level to the market and paid to specialist finishers handling large numbers. Opening price reports are in the region of €7.30/kg. Regular sellers and those offering significant numbers or trading through producer groups are pushing returns to €7.40/kg to €7.45/kg, while at the top end of the market, reports indicate specialist finishers offering very large numbers are trading between €7.45/kg and €7.60/kg.

Ewe trade

The ewe trade is also creeping upwards, with starting quotes now ranging from €3/kg to €3.20/kg depending on the purchasing plant. Regular sellers are securing 10c/kg higher, while, at the higher end of the market, €3.45/kg to €3.60/kg is being paid on occasion for significant numbers of top-quality fleshed ewes.

The mart trade has also stepped up a notch, with factory agents working for the main plants now competing with greater intensity with buyers active for top-quality heavier ewes.