Hoggets steady as buyers move to stabilise the market

After a number of weeks of strong hogget trading, factory buyers have moved to stabilise the market somewhat this week.

Although all-in prices of 630-640c/kg are available, a smaller number of deals are being done above this threshold.

Spring lamb prices also appear to be under pressure and buyers are generally starting negotiations with farmers at 690c/kg this week. Buyers have also warned that under-finished and light lambs are beginning to come more common on the market.

Despite the tightening of the hogget and lamb markets, the ewe trade continues to remain vibrant and buyers are offering 300-320c/kg to get numbers through the gates.

Higher prices bring out hogget numbers

During the week ending April 15, the higher prices being offered appeared to have the desired effect, as more hoggets became available for slaughter.

Official figures from the Department of Agriculture’s sheep kill database show that 37,828 hoggets were processed in export approved sheepmeat plants during the week ending April 15 – a climb of 3,198 head or 9.2% on the previous week.

Throughput increases where also witnessed in the spring lamb and cast (ewe and ram) categories, which rose by 1,076 head and 978 head respectively.

Given the above, the total number of sheep processed during the week ending April 15 stood at 48,560 head – a jump of 5,252 head or 12% on the quantity witnessed during the week ending April 8.

Week-on-week sheep kill changes (week ending April 15):
  • Hoggets: 37,828 head (+3,198 head or +9.2%);
  • Spring lambs: 1,651 head (+1,076 head or +187 head):
  • Ewes and rams: 9,081 head (+978 head or +12%);
  • Total: 48,560 head (+5,252 head or +12%).

Spring lamb numbers back 34%

When we look at the cumulative sheep kill this year, figures from the department show that some 756,582 sheep were slaughtered in export approved plants.

Throughput increases were witnessed in both the hogget (+1,130 head) and cast (+17,750 head) categories, while a major reduction was witnessed in the spring lamb market.

Back in 2017, some 9,647 spring lambs were processed to this point in the year. However, the cumulative spring lamb kill stands at just 6,335 head this spring – a drop of 3,312 head or 34%.

A large part of this fall can be attributed to the earlier Easter this year, while poor weather conditions at lambing time may also have had an impact.

Year-on-year sheep kill changes:
  • Hoggets: 633,689 head (+1,130 head or +2%);
  • Spring lambs: 6,335 head (-3,312 head or -34%);
  • Ewes and rams: 116,520 head (+17,750 head or +18%);
  • Total: 756,582 head (+15,233 head or +2%).