The sheep trade eased in the past week with a further recovery in supply and a decrease in price.

This is according to Bord Bia’s latest market update, which also notes that across our key export markets, trade was mixed.

Bord Bia says average prices have decreased on last week’s prices. Base quotes for hoggets this week were making around €5.50/kg. New season spring lamb was generally making around €6.00/kg. Prices paid for cull ewes were steady making between €2.40/kg to €2.50/kg.

According to data from the Department of Agriculture, supplies for the week ending April 26 stood at around 38,800 head which is around 1,000 head or 3% higher compared to the corresponding week in 2013. Cumulative supplies are back around 6% or 41,000 head on 2013 levels to around 692,600 head.

Quarterly figures released from the CSO also show that supplies for the first quarter of this year were 12% down on the same period last year with production down 8% to 11,500 tonnes.

In the UK, Bord Bia says, the trade has followed the expected seasonal pattern and eased with some recovery in supplies. The new season SQQ live price for lambs in England and Wales was making the equivalent of around €6.51/kg DW by mid-week.

It also notes that in France, the market returned to more normal levels following the Easter period. Market conditions should be helped over the next few weeks on the back of tight UK spring lamb supplies being reported. The Irish Grade 1 lamb price is making around €6.62/kg (inclusive of VAT).

Source: Bord Bia

Source: Bord Bia

Northern Ireland

According to the Livestock and Meat Commission quotes from the plants for R3 grading hoggets remained steady this week at 450-460kg up to 22kg with reports of numbers starting to tighten.

It said the quality of the hoggets coming forward for slaughter has also declined. The factories are quoting 480- 500p/kg for spring lambs up to 21kg with lambs starting to come forward now in greater numbers and accounted for more than a third of the price reported kill last week.

With the shorter working week last week there was a reduction in sheep throughput in the North. A total of 3,818 lambs/hoggets were killed in NI last week compared to 4,969 the previous week. The deadweight hogget price in NI last week was 451.6p/kg while the deadweight spring lamb price was 490.7p/kg.