The recovery in prices for hoggets continues this week, with top prices of between €6.30/kg and €6.40/kg being secured currently.

Last week, many at the top end of the market were securing deals of €6.20-6.30/kg and in some cases up to €6.35/kg. This has moved up another gear this week, with isolated cases of deals being done at €6.45/kg.

Since prices came back in mid-to-late January, there were reports of producers holding off marketing hoggets until prices were lifted again and this can be seen from the weekly kills, with the number of hoggets processed falling significantly from over 52,00 towards the middle to the latter half of January to just over 38,000 head last week.

However, the lift in factory prices could be seen at sales held yesterday, with prices edging upwards on what they were this time last week for finished lambs.

Speaking to Sean McNamara, the sheep chairperson of the Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers’ Association (ICSA), he believes that the factory prices will reach the highs seen last month.

He explained: “We are seeing prices move back to where they were a couple of weeks back. This week we are seeing deals being secured up to €6.40/kg, with possibly some getting 5c/kg more.

“We were up to €6.50/kg there a few weeks back so I’d be hopeful we will get back to those highs again shortly.”

Sheep kill

Last week’s sheep kill (week ending February 7) totalled 38,573 head which is a decrease of 5,086 head on the previous week and a substantial drop of 13,506 head from a fortnight ago.

The number of hoggets processed for the week ending February 7 totalled 33,669, which is 4,362 head less than the week before.

Meanwhile, the number of ewes and rams processed at meat processing plants amounted to 4,898 head last week, which is also back from the week before (-740 head).

Week-on-week sheep kill supplies (the week ending February 7):

  • Lambs/hoggets: 33,659 head (-4,362 or -11.4%);
  • Ewes and rams: 4,898 head (-740 or -13.1%);
  • Total: 38,573 head (-5,086 or -11.64%).

Cumulative figures for the year to date have reached 239,104 head, which is a decrease of 19,232 head compared to the 2020 figure of 258,336 head.

Data source: Department of Agriculture

Year-on-year sheep kill changes (the week ending February 7):

  • Lambs/hoggets: 208,806 head (-13,082 or -6%);
  • Ewes and rams: 30,285 head (-6,160 or -17%);
  • Total: 239,104 head (-19,232 or -7%).