Factories move to lower spring lamb quotes

After a relatively slow start, the number of spring lambs being slaughtered on a weekly basis has increased significantly over recent weeks.

On the back of this, factory buyers are striving to get a handle on the market and have cut base quotes by 10c/kg over recent days.

As it stands, many procurement managers are starting negotiations with farmers at 680c/kg (excluding quality assurance and producer group bonuses) for new season lambs – down from 690c/kg last week.

However, factory buyers are meeting resistance at the coalface and many farmers – especially those with heavier lambs – are opting to go down the mart route.

This is especially the case where lambs may be that little bit heavier and have the potential to produce a +20kg carcass, which is being sought after by butchers at the ringside.

Meanwhile, the hogget season appears to be coming to a close and the majority of processors have ceased quoting for such animals. However, quotes of 600c/kg have been muted over recent days.

Despite the dip in spring lamb quotes and falling hogget numbers, ewes seem to remain the one constant in the market at present; factories are offering 300-310c/kg to secure suitable, well-fleshed ewes presently.


Some 50,580 sheep were slaughtered in Department of Agriculture approved sheepmeat plants during the week ending May 13 – up 122 head on the previous week.

Official figures show that hogget throughput stood at 25,121 head – a decrease of 3,780 head on the week before and spring lamb numbers stood at 17,184.

Meanwhile, some 8,275 ewes and rams were processed during the week ending May 13. When compared to the week earlier, that’s a drop of 2,343 head or 22%.

Week-on-week sheep kill changes:
  • Hoggets: 25,121 head (-3,780 head or -13.1%);
  • Spring lambs: 17,184 head (+6,250 head or +57.2%);
  • Ewes and rams: 8,275 head (-2,343 head or -22%);
  • Total: 50,580 head (+122 head or +0.24%).

Looking at the cumulative sheep kill up to the week ending May 13, some 761,857 sheep were processed in Department of Agriculture approved sheepmeat plants – a climb or 19,136 head or 2% on the corresponding period in 2017.

Throughput increases were witnessed in the hogget and cast (ewe and ram) categories. Hogget slaughterings climbed by 1% or 7,790 head, while cast throughput is up by 27,815 head or 22%.

However, there has been a noticeable reduction in spring lamb slaughterings and throughput is back by 16,150 head or 28% on the corresponding period in 2017.

Year-on-year sheep kill changes:
  • Hoggets: 761,857 head (+7,790 head or +1%);
  • Spring lambs: 40,825 head (-16,150 head or -28%);
  • Ewes and rams: 154,825 head (+27,815 head or +22%);
  • Total: 957,580 head (+19,136 head or +2%).