Sheep kill numbers fall but spring lamb numbers continue to increase

The number of sheep processed at Department of Agriculture approved sheepmeat export plants continues to tighten.

Figures from the Department’s sheep kill shows a 10% fall in sheep slaughterings during the week ending May 8 compared to the week before.

The majority of this fall was due to a decline in hogget throughput, which dropped by 31.7% or 9,071 head last week.

However, figures from the Department show that spring lamb and cast ewe and ram throughput increased last week compared to the week ending May 1.

Spring lamb throughput jumped by 42% or 4,403 head, while cast ewe and ram kill posted a slight increase of 0.7% or 45 head.

Week-on-week sheep kill changes:
  • Hoggets: -9,071 head (-31.7%)
  • Spring lambs: +4,403 (+42%)
  • Ewes and rams: +45 head (+0.7%)
  • Total: -4,618 head (-10%)
Source: Department of Agriculture
Source: Department of Agriculture

Sheep trade

Spring lamb and hogget price have remained static this week, as the market show some signs of steadying following a difficult few weeks in April.

The main sheep factories are now offering a base price of 550c/kg for spring lamb, down from 600c/kg in early April.

Procurement managers also expect spring lamb throughput to increase this week due to the forecast improvement in the weather.

However, they said that hogget numbers are starting to tighten, as the season draws to a close. But, the base prices for these lots remains unchanged at 500c/kg.

Cumulative sheep kill

According to figures from the Department of Agriculture’s sheep kill data, there have been 7% more sheep slaughtered this year compared to the same time in 2015.

Hogget and cast throughput increased by 5% and 31% respectively.

However, spring lamb throughput continues to lag behind 2015 levels, with just 41,976 slaughtered to the week ending May 8.

This means that the cumulative spring lamb kill is back by 7% or 3,238 head.