No buzz to spring lamb trade as Easter approaches

Easter is fast approaching and processors have little over seven full processing days before they break on Good Friday.

Despite Easter’s proximity, factory buyers are noticeably slow in offering quotes for spring lambs and many buyers appear keener to purchase hoggets. Although official quotes are few and far between, some buyers are offering 700-720c/kg when approached for quotes for spring lambs.

For the most part, the hogget trade has remained strong and buyers are offering base quotes of 580-600c/kg to secure supplies.

However, when Quality Assurance and producer group bonuses are factored into the equation, some deals are being done at 620c/kg.

Finishers with larger numbers of sheep to market are also finding some leeway when it comes to the base quotes being offered. Others are also managing to secure deals up to 24kg carcasses. However, these are in the minority in the grand scheme of things.

Like last week, the ewe trade has remained relatively unchanged and most buyers are offering 300c/kg to secure throughput.


Official figures from the Department of Agriculture show that some 45,132 sheep were slaughtered during the week ending March 11 – a jump of 15% or 5,888 head when compared to the previous week.

In addition, hogget throughput also climbed by 6,058 head or 18%, while a decrease was witnessed in cast (ewe and ram) throughput.

Week-on-week sheep kill changes:
  • Hoggets: 39,620 head (+6058 head or +18%);
  • Ewes and rams: 5,498 head (-181 head or -3.8%);
  • Total: 45,132 head (+5,888 head or +15%).

Furthermore, figures from the department also show that some 492,891 sheep have been slaughtered in export approved plants up to the week ending March 11 this year.

When compared to the corresponding period in 2017, that’s a jump of 1% or 3,897 head. This increase is largely due to a rise in cast slaughterings (+7,759 head), while hogget throughput is back by 1% or 3,512 head.

Year-on-year sheep kill changes:
  • Hoggets: 416,562 head (-3,512 head or -1%);
  • Ewes and rams: 76,277 head (+7,759 head or +11%);
  • Total: 492,891 head (+3,897 head or +1%).
Graph source: Department of Agriculture