Hogget prices have jumped by over €10/head since last week, with quotes rising by 30c/kg to 40c/kg over the weekend and another 20c/kg on Thursday.

Kildare Chilling and the two Irish Country Meats Plants in Camolin and Navan are quoting bases of €7.60/kg, with the two ICM plants 20c/kg QA payment and Kildare Chilling offering a 10c/kg quality assurance (QA) payment.

This leaves opening prices for QA hoggets in the region of €7.80/kg. Regular sellers and groups have moved to €7.90/kg to €8/kg, with specialist finishers and those handling very large numbers now exceeding €8.00/kg.

There are also deals being done on carcase weight. The two ICM plants are paying to 23.5kg, with other plants reported as willing to pay to 23.5kg to secure deals with certain sellers.

Some reports show 24kg carcase weight being paid and this has typically been for those trading at the very top end of the market or to regular sellers to compensate for a lower price.

Competition between plants is intense, with supplies extremely tight and purchasing for the Islamic festival of Ramadan ramping up.

This is reflected in last week’s kill recorded at 44,564 head. This is running 6,805 head lower than the corresponding week in 2023, despite prices running €1.50/kg to €1.70/kg higher.

Ewe trade

Ewe quotes have also increased by 10c/kg. Better-quality ewes are now quoted from €3.30/kg to €3.40/kg.

Regular sellers and those with greater negotiating power are securing returns ranging from €3.50/kg to €3.60/kg, with higher prices going in some wholesalers and abattoirs.

The live price has also strengthened with buyers exporting ewes live back strong in the market. It is advisable for producers to weigh up their options and to grade ewes accordingly to attract maximum competition.

Northern trade

Producers in Northern Ireland are discounting base quotes for Thursday.

Quotes have increased by 10p/kg and range from £6.25/kg to £6.30/kg (€7.29/kg to €7.37/kg). This is well behind the going market rate, with most negotiations opening at between £6.35/kg and £6.40/kg (€7.47/kg).

Groups and regular sellers are receiving higher prices, with returns ranging from £6.50/kg to £6.60/kg (€7.59/kg to €7.70/kg) and higher to compete with agents purchasing sheep for export and direct slaughter in southern plants.

The number of sheep exported south in the last week was recorded at 7,363, about 100 head lower than the previous week.

Prices in Britain have moved upwards of £7/kg, with the trade for hoggets ranging on average from £7.10/kg to £7.20/kg (€8.29/kg to €8.40/kg).

There are reports of higher equivalent prices being paid in live sales.