The mart trade continues to provide an excellent route to market for hoggets, spring lambs and cull ewes.

Many mart managers report higher numbers on offer in recent days, with throughput boosted by ewe hoggets coming on stream due to the high prices and small numbers of spring lambs appearing to capitalise on demand for the Easter trade.

Top-quality heavier hoggets weighing from 52kg to 56kg and upwards are selling anywhere from €200 to €220, with a selection rising to €230/head.

Lesser-quality lots or hoggets presented with a lower cover of flesh and weighing 48kg to 50kg are trading on average from €185 to €195, with some lots again reaching and topping the €200/head mark.

Spring lamb

The spring lamb trade has started brightly and looks to be a better bet than the factory trade, going on prices reported from sales in recent days.

Light lambs weighing around the 40kg to 41kg mark are trading anywhere from the mid-€180s for average-quality types to the mid- to high-€190s, with odd batches topping the €200 mark for excellent-quality types.

Heavier spring lambs are a flying trade, with prices paid for young, fleshed lambs weighing 48kg to 50kg upwards selling anywhere from €215 to €230 and blowing factory quotes out of the water.

The highest prices reported in special sales on occasion have ranged right up to €250 to €260 for super-quality lambs purchased in small numbers by butcher or wholesale buyers.

Factory quotes

Factory quotes have increased by 10c/kg to 20c/kg since last Thursday.

The two Irish Country Meats (ICM) plants in Navan and Camolin have moved to the same price as Kildare Chilling for quality assured (QA) hoggets. The plants are quoting a base of €8.50/kg plus 20c/kg QA payment, while Kildare Chilling is quoting a base of €8.60/kg plus 10c/kg QA.

The two ICM plants remain the only ones officially quoting for spring lamb and are offering a base of €9.00/kg to 20.5kg plus 20c/kg for QA lamb.

The window for drafting spring lambs has now passed, with some producers availing of the niche market at prices of upwards of €10/kg.