Ramadan boost for spring lamb trade

The Muslim festival of Ramadan, which is currently underway, appears to be bringing more spring lambs forward for slaughter.

Festival demand has already had a positive impact on prices, as some buyers are paying 620-630c/kg to secure suitable spring lamb supplies.

This demand has led to an increase in the number of Irish lambs being processed, which was particularly evident during the week ending May 21.

Official figures from the Department of Agriculture’s sheep kill database show that some 25,931 lambs were slaughtered during the week ending May 21. This is an increase of 4,743 head or 22.4% on week earlier levels.

However, a carryover of hoggets continues to define the market. And during the week ending May 21, some 17,917 hoggets were slaughtered in approved sheepmeat export plants.

This brings the cumulative hogget kill for the year to 663,228 head – a jump of 108,756 head or 16% on 2016 levels.

Source: Department of Agriculture


For the most part, the majority of plants are continuing to work off last week’s base prices. These are generally 600-610c/kg (excluding QA payments) for spring lambs.

Kepak Athleague and Kildare Chilling lead the way with a base price of 610c/kg (excluding QA bonus), while the two Irish Country Meats plants are starting negotiations with farmers at 600c/kg.

Spring lamb quotes:
  • Kepak Athleague: 610c/kg + 5c QA (Tuesday’s price)
  • Kildare Chilling: 610c/kg + 5c QA
  • ICM Camolin: 600c/kg + 10c QA
  • ICM Navan: 600c/kg + 10c QA

Hogget prices have also remained relatively unchanged from last week, as the majority of processors are working off a base price of 500-525c/kg.

Hogget quotes:
  • Kepak Athleague: 525c/kg + 5c QA (Tuesday price)
  • Kildare Chilling: 510c/kg + 10c QA
  • ICM Camolin: 500c/kg + 10c QA
  • ICM Navan: 500c/kg + 10c QA

Main markets

The British sheep trade remains strong due to higher demand and low throughput numbers, Bord Bia reports.

The SQQ live price for lamb in England and Wales made the equivalent of 588c/kg deadweight last week.

However, it says, sheepmeat production has increased by 4% year-on-year between January and April of this year. This is due to a higher carryover of lambs from last year and heavier carcass weights.

Bord Bia also reports that there was little change in the French sheepmeat market last week. This comes on the back of a plentiful supply of imported and Lacaune lambs on the market.