Sheep trade: Hogget quotes plummet, as spring lamb prices look set to come ‘under pressure’

It looks like another tough week is in store for sheep farmers, as prices for both spring lambs and hoggets come under pressure.

Meat processing plants have knocked 10c/kg off spring lamb quotes, which is leaving base prices around the 590-600c/kg mark.

However, that could be just the start, as processors have warned that there could be further price cuts throughout the rest of this week, as the number of lambs coming through the system gradually increases.

The message is that market uncertainty – due to Covid-19 – coupled with an increasing number of lambs being presented to factories, is leaving prices, for spring lambs in particular, uncertain for the rest of the week.

Processors did note that farmers are drafting lambs once they come fit; however, this will be of little comfort to farmers if they aren’t being rewarded with good prices for their stock.

Moreover, hogget quotes have taken a substantial hit as well, with meat processing plants wiping between 30c/kg and 50c/kg off hogget base prices.

This is leaving hogget quotes around the 490-500c/kg mark, which is a clear indication that factories are shifting their focus towards spring lambs.

Figures from the Department of Agriculture show that the hogget throughput for the week ending May 17 was almost half of what it was for the previous week.

The end of the Ramadan festival, along with an increasing number of lambs coming onto the market, is putting pressure on prices, according to processors.

Cast ewe quotes are holding around the 250-270c/kg mark.

Quotes

Taking a look at the quotes on offer, both Irish Country Meats (ICM) and Kepak Athleague (Monday quote) are offering a base price of 590c/kg for spring lambs, while Kildare Chilling (Monday quote) is offering a base price of 600c/kg.

When quality assurance (QA) bonuses are factored in, this leaves quotes at 600-610c/kg for spring lambs.

Taking a look at the quotes for hoggets, ICM (Monday quote) is offering a base price of 500c/kg, while Kildare Chilling (Monday quote) is offering a base price of 490c/kg.

Kepak Athleague wasn’t quoting for hoggets on Monday, May 25.

When QA bonuses are factored in, this leaves quotes at 540-550c/kg for hoggets.

Turning to the cast ewe quotes, Kildare Chilling (Monday quote) is offering a base price of 260c/kg. Both ICM and Kepak Athleague (Monday quote) are offering 250c/kg.

When QA bonuses are taken into account, this leaves quotes at 250-270c/kg.

Spring lamb quotes:

  • ICM: 590c/kg + 10c/kg QA;
  • Kepak Athleague: 590c/kg + 15c/kg QA;
  • Kildare Chilling: 600c/kg + 10c/kg QA.

Hogget quotes:

  • ICM: 500c/kg + 10c/kg QA;
  • Kildare Chilling: 490c/kg + 10c/kg QA.

Cast ewe quotes: 

  • ICM: 250c/kg;
  • Kepak Athleague: 250c/kg;
  • Kildare Chilling: 260c/kg + 10c/kg QA.

Throughput

For the week ending May 17, the number of hoggets processed decreased by over 6,800 head compared to the previous week, as hogget supplies continue to decrease week-on-week.

In total, the number of spring lambs processed amounted to 22,444 for the week ending May 17.

Cast (ewe and ram) supplies at the Department of Agriculture approved sheep export plants stood at 4,513 head – a decrease of 2,285 head – for the week ending May 17.

Week-on-week sheep kill supplies (week ending May 17):

  • Hoggets: 7,670 head (-6,891 or -47.3%);
  • Spring lambs: 22,444 head (+1,332 or +6.3%);
  • Ewes and rams: 4,513 head (-2,285 or -33%);
  • Total: 34,627 head (-7,848 or -18%).

Moreover, overall supplies decreased by 7,848 head during the week ending May 17 and amounted to 34,627 head.

Cumulative figures for the year to date have reached 955,381 head, which is an increase of 32,467 head compared to the 2019 figure of 922,914 head.

Year-on-year sheep kill changes (week ending May 17):

  • Hoggets: 763,651 head (+57,316 or +8%);
  • Spring lambs: 75,422 head (-2,134 or -3%);
  • Ewes and rams: 116,280 head (-22,733 or -16%);
  • Total: 955,381 head (+32,467 or +4%).