Easter demand drives spring lamb supplies

The spring lamb market stepped up a gear this week, as factory buyers were keen to secure spring lambs ahead of this weekend’s Easter break.

Official figures from the Department of Agriculture’s sheep kill database show that some 1,953 spring lambs were processed last week – a climb of 1,591 head when compared to the previous week.

In addition, a further increase in numbers was expected on kill lines this week, as many buyers were offering quotes of 700-720c/kg to get numbers in.

Despite the climb in spring lamb numbers, decreases were witnessed in all of the other main sheep throughput categories. Cast (ewe and ram) throughput reduced by a staggering 27.3% or 2,343 head, while hogget numbers decreased by 6% or 2,991 head.

Graph source: Department of Agriculture

Falling numbers from the cast and hogget categories actually resulted in last week’s sheep kill falling when compared to the previous week. In total, the weekly sheep kill declined by 6.4% or 3,739 head on the number witnessed during the week ending March 18.

Week-on-week sheep kill changes:
  • Hoggets: 46,616 head (-2,991 head or -6%);
  • Spring lambs: 1,953 head (+1,595 head or +445.6%);
  • Ewes and rams: 6,253 head (-2,343 head or -27.3%);
  • Total: 54,822 head (-3,739 head or -6.4%).

Yearly kill up 5%

Despite supplies falling last week, the cumulative 2018 sheep kill is currently running 26,811 head or 5% ahead of the number witnessed during the corresponding period in 2017.

Cumulative throughput increases have been witnessed in the hogget, spring lamb and cast categories.

Year-on-year sheep kill changes:
  • Hoggets: 512,783 head (+13,892 head or +3%);
  • Spring lambs: 2,325 head (+1,648 head or +243%);
  • Ewes and rams: 91,128 head (+11,543 head or +15%);
  • Total: 606,274 head (+26,811 head or +5%).