The sheep trade remained strong this week as stable demand coupled with tight supply continues to drive price. This is according to Bord Bias latest market update in which it also noted that trade in our key exports markets remains steady with tight supplies in the UK helping the trade.

Bord Bia says base quotes for hoggets increased this week to around €5.80/kg. New season spring lamb was making between €6.20 and €6.30/kg. Prices paid for cull ewes increased on last week and were making between €2.50/kg and €2.70/kg.

It notes that supplies for the week ending March 29 stood at around 37,000 head which was around 10,000 head or 21% down on the corresponding period in 2013. Cumulative supplies are back 13% to around 512,600 head.

In the UK Bord Bia said, the trade showed little change with supplies remaining relatively tight. The new season SQQ live price for lambs in England and Wales was making the equivalent of around €5.78/kg dw by mid-week.

It also found the market in France, was stable although steady volumes of Lacaune lambs and heavy Spanish lamb add some more competition to the market. Irish Grade 1 lamb was making around €6.10/kg (inc VAT).

Northern Ireland

In Northern Ireland the Livestock and Meat Commission says the deadweight sheep trade was also strong this week with high prices in the marts driving up factory quotes. At the end of last week top factory quotes were 440p/kg.

It says however, on Monday factories opened quoting 460p/kg. As the week progressed some plants raised quotes to 470p/kg with others paying 480p/kg and more to secure supply. Factory throughput in NI is under pressure with the hogget kill down by 25% (-1,500) head) last week. The ewe kill has also come under pressure. Last week, over 7,000 sheep were exported from NI to ROI.