Sheep kill: Hogget numbers tighten but spring lamb throughput jumps again

There was an ease in the number of sheep slaughtered at Department of Agriculture approved sheepmeat export plants last week.

Figures from the Department’s sheep kill data shows that the sheep kill for the week ending April 17 dropped by 4% compared to the week earlier.

Hogget throughput also declined by 5%, with 1,758 head fewer slaughtered last week compared to the week earlier. These animals have also dropped in price, with factory quotes falling by 10c/kg this week.

According to the Department, there was also a fall in the number of ewes and rams slaughtered last week, with throughput down by 4% or 206 head.

However, the week-on-week spring lamb throughput is continuing to increase, with throughput up 16% last week and 80% the week before.

But, the spring lamb trade continues to remain difficult, as Irish spring lamb buyers are slow to make the switch over from hoggets to new season lamb.

And as a result, spring lamb prices have dropped in both factories and marts, with factory quotes falling by 20-30c/kg this week.

Week-on-week sheep kill changes:
  • Hoggets: -1,758 head (-5%)
  • Spring lambs: +303 head (+16%)
  • Ewes and rams: -206 head (-4%)
  • Total: -1,625 head (-4%)
sheep kill
Source: Department of Agriculture

Cumulative sheep kill

According to the Department’s figures, the number of sheep slaughtered this year to the week ending April 17 is up 8% on the same time in 2015.

The majority of this increase comes from a jump in both hogget and cast throughput, which have increased by 6% (29,320 head) and 30% (20,389 head) respectively.

But, there has been no change in the number of spring lambs slaughtered, the Department figures show, with the cumulative throughput until April 17 standing at 12,633 head.

Cumulative sheep kill changes:
  • Hoggets: +29,320 head (+6%)
  • Spring lambs: -17 head (0%)
  • Ewes and rams: +20,389 head (+30%)
  • Total: +49,327 head (+8%)

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