The number of hoggets in the market has tightened significantly and this is reflected in last week’s hogget throughput falling by 17,162 head to 26,742.

This is 8,435 head above the corresponding week in 2021 but there are a few other factors at play limiting overall supplies and influencing the trade.

Lamb numbers are slower to build, with throughput of 15,230 up 4,371 head on the week but still remaining 4,964 head below the corresponding week in 2021. The tightness in supply, with the total kill recorded at 47,423 head, is occurring at a time of sustained demand and is generating more competition in the market.

Kildare Chilling increased its lamb quote by 10c/kg earlier this week to a base of €8.00/kg plus its 10c/kg quality assurance bonus (QA). The two ICM plants in Camolin and Navan remain on €7.90/kg plus 10c/kg QA. Reports indicate other plants are offering a similar quote.

Regular sellers, producers trading through groups and those handling higher numbers are securing returns ranging from €8.15/kg to €8.20/kg while there are reports appearing of €8.25/kg to €8.30/kg being secured at the top end of the market for sellers with greater negotiating power.

Kildare Chilling has moved its carcase weight up to 20.5kg and joins the two ICM plants. Some wholesale buyers are offering higher carcase weight limits to entice sales.

Overweight caution

Procurement agents continue to caution producers as to a significant number of overweight lambs in the system and some under-fleshed lots also appearing. This has the potential to harm potential sales, particularly in the carcase trade and needs to be avoided.

The falloff in hogget supplies has forced some agents to reverse recent price pressure. There is significant variation in quotes ranging from a base of €6.80/kg to €7.10/kg.

Individual sellers and groups are securing returns ranging from €7.20/kg to €7.30/kg. At the top end of the market, specialist finishers and those handling large numbers are commanding returns ranging anywhere from €7.30/kg to €7.50/kg but quality is also having a big influence on prices paid.

The ewe kill has also eased back with quotes unchanged. Those with significant numbers are pushing prices to €3.90/kg to €4/kg while agents handling significant numbers are negotiating in excess of €4/kg.

Northern Ireland

Plants in Northern Ireland are also this week struggling to source required numbers and are having to pay 10p/kg to 20p/kg above quotes of £5.70/kg for hoggets and £6.20/kg for lambs.

The number of sheep exported last week from Northern Ireland for direct slaughter in southern plants fell by 856 head to 4,667.

Exports of live sheep and sheep for direct slaughter to Britain remain above norm at over 2,500 head.