There is more life in the sheep trade this week, with factory agents exhibiting a stronger appetite for hoggets and lambs.

Base quotes in plants in Ireland have not changed significantly, with Kildare Chilling increasing its base lamb quote by 10c/kg to €9.40/kg plus 10c/kg quality assurance (QA) payment.

It joins the two Irish Country Meats (ICM) plants for quality assured lambs on €9.30/kg plus 20c/kg QA.

The greatest movement has been in plants in Northern Ireland, with Linden Foods reversing the cuts of recent weeks and increasing its lamb quote by 30p/kg to £8/kg or the equivalent of €9.32/kg at 85.8p to the euro.

The plant is quoting 20p/kg above Dunbia, with the hogget quote differential widening to 30p/kg.

The top hogget base quote is at £7.50/kg (€8.74/kg), with reports for both hoggets and lambs showing regular sellers and groups securing 10p/kg to 20p/kg above the top quoted prices.

This is reflected in mart sales, with top prices trending above the deadweight trade.

Buyers from Britain have also been active in a number of sales in the last week.

Prices for hoggets are upwards of £8.20/kg, while lamb prices are in excess of £9/kg, providing an opportunity to source sheep for live export.

There is also much more life in the trade for hoggets in southern plants.

A differential has opened up between prices paid to individual sellers and specialist finishers or agents.

Opening quotes for hoggets are in the region of €9.20/kg to €9.30/kg, but prices ranging from €9.40/kg to €9.60/kg continue to be secured for in-spec hoggets from sellers trading at the top end of the market. Reports indicate there is also more scope to secure part payment on transport costs for large numbers.

Sellers are also advised to check the age of hoggets, with factories actively checking the mouths of hoggets presented for sale.

Kill figures

Last week’s sheep kill increased by 2,633 head to reach 41,258.

This remains almost 5,800 lower than the corresponding week in 2023, with year-to-date throughput running over 103,700 head lower.

Hogget throughput of 25,426 head is similar to 2023, but lamb throughput of 11,667 is running 3,898 head lower.

The cull ewe and ram kill of 4,159 head is also running 1,385 head lower, with live exporters remaining active in sourcing ewes.

Reports also indicate live export buyers have also started purchasing lambs this week.

Ewe trade

Cull ewe quotes are firm ranging from €4.00/kg to €4.20/kg.

Top prices reported are in the region of €4.20/kg to €4.40/kg. Producers should continue to weigh up the best market outlet, with the live trade edging the dead trade for heavy carcase ewes.