Peak buying for the Islamic religious festival of Ramadan, which starts on 10 March, has pushed hogget quotes beyond the €8/kg mark.

Kildare Chilling has reasserted its position as pace setters of upward movement, with its base quote of €8/kg plus 10c/kg quality assurance (QA) payment increasing 40c/kg since last week.

Quotes in plants not offering official quotes are reported in the region of €7.75/kg to €7.80/kg or an opening quote of €7.90/kg for QA hoggets.

There are very few hoggets moving at opening quotes, with the benchmark for prices now set at upwards of €8/kg.

The negotiating power of sellers is being aided greatly by a vibrant mart trade offering an attractive alternative option for producers struggling to negotiate on price.

Regular sellers handling large numbers and farmers selling through producer groups are securing returns ranging from €8.15/kg to €8.25/kg, while reports indicate specialist finishers handling very large numbers are pushing returns to €8.30/kg to €8.40/kg.

There are also deals being negotiated on carcase weights to 24kg and allowances on transport costs to secure sales.

The recent upward movement in price has had some success in attracting higher numbers on to the market, but throughput remains tight considering the prices on offer.

Last week’s sheep kill was recorded at 49,290 head. This is an increase of almost 5,000 head on last week’s level and is in line with the corresponding week in 2023.

It is running significantly behind the run in to Ramadan in 2023, with throughput recorded at over 53,000 head and in excess of 67,000 head.

This week’s throughput has been running at a higher level, but reports indicate it will struggle to match the levels recorded in 2023.

The tight supply of hoggets is putting more life in the trade for cull ewes. Ballon Meats has recorded the greatest movement, with its ewe quote of €3.60/kg up 20c/kg on the week.

Quotes in the main exporting plants remain in the region of €3.30/kg to €3.40/kg, but higher prices are being negotiated for large consignments of ewes.

NI trade

The trade in Northern Ireland has also jumped, with quotes of £6.50/kg (€7.60/kg) up 25p/kg on the week.

Producers with any level of negotiating power are securing returns of £6.60/kg, with prices at the top end of the market rising to £6.70/kg to £6.80/kg (€7.83/kg to €7.95/kg).

Factories in Northern Ireland had been under considerable pressure to increase prices, with buyers purchasing sheep for direct slaughter offering higher prices.

This is reflected in the number of sheep exported south for direct slaughter rising by over 1,200 head last week to 8,645 sheep. Prices in Britain have jumped again and are heading for £7.50/kg.