Ramadan buying steadies the sheep trade

The Muslim festival of Ramadan will commence on May 15 and it’s having somewhat of a steadying effect on spring lamb and hogget prices.

Over recent weeks, buyers moved to tighten their grip on both the hogget and spring lamb trade and quotes dropped to 600-610c/kg and 680-700c/kg respectively.

However, as peak buying for the festival intensifies – a festival which sees many Middle Eastern governments offer their citizens subsidies to buy lamb or sheepmeat – farmers may be able to hold out for more when it comes to marketing their stock.

Factory buyers are currently starting negotiations with farmers at 600-620c/kg for hoggets and 680-700c/kg for spring lambs (both excluding Quality Assurance Scheme and producer group bonuses).

With these bonuses applied, some specialised finishers have been able to secure all-in prices of 640-650c/kg for hoggets this week.

Meanwhile, the ewe trade remains relatively steady and quotes of 300-320c/kg are on offer.

Supplies

During the week ending April 29, some 50,582 sheep were slaughtered in Department of Agriculture approved sheepmeat export plants – a rise of 1,204 head or 2.4% on the previous week.

Additional spring lamb slaughterings (+1,508 head) was the primary cause of this increase, while the cast (ewe and ram) and hogget categories posted slight throughput decreases.

Week-on-week sheep kill changes (week ending April 29):
  • Hoggets: 36,928 head (-290 head or -0.8%);
  • Spring lambs: 3,940 head (+1,508 head or +62%);
  • Ewes and rams: 9,704 head (-4 head or -0.04%);
  • Total: 50,582 head (+1,204 head or +2.4%).

Looking at the cumulative sheep kill so far this year, official figures show that some 856,542 sheep have been processed in approved export plants up to the week ending April 29.

Throughput increases were witnessed in the hogget (+2,705 head) and cast (+23,109 head) categories, while spring lamb supplies are currently running 8,701 head or 41% behind where they were in the corresponding period in 2017.

Year-on-year sheep kill changes (week ending April 29):
  • Hoggets: 707,835 head (+2,705 head or +0.4%);
  • Spring lambs: 12,707 head (-8,701 head or -41%);
  • Ewes and rams: 135,932 head (+23,109 head or +20%);
  • Total: 856,542 head (+16,804 head or +2%).