There has been further significant upward movement in the sheep trade this week, with prices rising by 20c/kg to 30c/kg.

Kildare Chilling has increased its hogget quote by 30c/kg in the week, with 20c/kg of this rise coming at the start of the week and another 10c/kg on Thursday.

This leaves the plant on a base quote of €9.20/kg plus its 10c/kg quality assurance (QA) payment.

The two Irish Country Meats plants have resumed quoting for hoggets and are offering a base of €9.00/kg plus their 20c/kg QA payment.

Reports indicate Dawn Meats Ballyhaunis is working from a similar quote to Kildare, with Kepak on a 5c/kg lower base for groups.

There were reports on Wednesday of €9.50/kg to €9.70/kg being offered to specialist finishers and those handling large numbers.

There are also deals being completed in cases at 24kg carcase weight, albeit generally at a slightly lower price, and allowances on transport costs for large numbers.

The differential between lamb and hogget prices has closed to its narrowest level for many years.

All plants have added another 10c/kg to 20c/kg to quotes, with Kildare’s quotes of €9.40/kg plus 10c/kg similar to the two ICM plants for quality assured lambs at €9.30/kg plus 20c/kg.

ICM plants have moved their carcase weight up by 0.5kg this week to 23kg carcase weight.

Top prices reported for lambs are in the region of €9.60/kg to €9.75/kg, with reports indicating some agents are pushing to get heavy lambs killed under hogget terms.

The cull ewe trade also continues to edge upwards. Opening quotes are €4/kg in most plants, but reports indicate that up to €4.20/kg is being paid to sellers with reasonable negotiating power.

Ballon Meats is quoting €4.20/kg, up 20c/kg on the week, while top prices are reported in the region of €4.30/kg to €4.40/kg and higher to those with large numbers. The mart trade remains the more attractive outlet for heavy fleshed ewes.

Northern trade

The trade in Northern Ireland has burst into life, with factories increasing quotes by 60p/kg (70c/kg). In truth, the movement is only bringing prices closer in line to what is being paid and has been necessary for agents to have any hope in competing with buyers sourcing sheep to export live to Ireland or Britain.

Such agents are more active, with 1,000 fewer sheep exported south last week (5,945).

Groups and regular sellers are securing 10p/kg to 15p/kg higher than the base of £7.60/kg (€8.87/kg). Those handling large numbers and agents are pushing returns closer to £8/kg (€9.33/kg) .

Plants are not quoting officially for spring lambs but reports show prices are in the region of £8/kg (€9.33/kg), with higher paid to sellers with greater bargaining power.