Tight hogget supplies are driving prices up in the UK, similar to Ireland, with February’s kill in the UK down 8% on the same period as last year, according to the latest figures Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB).

Furthermore, hogget throughput for February of this year was down 87,000 on the previous month (January) and totalled 766,000 head.

Looking at the UK’s February production further, a total of 18,000t of sheepmeat was produced during February, down 1,800t on February 2020 and 1,300t lower than the previous month. This is the lowest monthly production figure reported since May 2013, according to the AHDB.

Throughput tends to fall during the first few months of the year, however, throughput this February is well below the five-year average – 126,000 head lower for the month, according to AHDB’s Charlie Reeve.

Although, the tighter supplies are leading to strong prices, with the latest Bord Bia figures showing average hogget prices in the UK (for the week ending March 6) to be €7.12/kg – up over €1.00/kg from this time last year.

Bord Bia’s Seamus McMenamin noted earlier this year that the UK’s national sheep flock declined by 4% in 2020, therefore, this coupled with a smaller carryover of hoggets into 2021, indicated that production would be back by 3.5%.

Speaking to the Irish Farmers Association (IFA) sheep chair, Sean Dennehy, he said that reduced sheepmeat coming from New Zealand into Europe and instead going to China is really helping to drive sheep prices.

Here at home

Here at home, hogget prices continue to strengthen, with prices at the top end of the market now topping €7.50/kg.

Hoggets are now moving at prices at or above €7.00/kg, with factories very eager to tie down numbers. The mart trade has also pushed on this week, with some very strong sales of sheep held on Monday and Tuesday of this week.

Looking briefly at yesterday’s sale at Tullow Mart, many of those fleshed hoggets over 50kg sold in excess of €167/head and reached a high of €179/head.

While hoggets in the 46-49kg weight generally sold from €152/head up to a high of €168/head.