Demand for spring lambs has been quite sluggish since they began appearing at marts in March.
Factory agents continued to focus their interest on hoggets and as such, spring lambs were the ‘poor relation in the ring’ according to some mart managers.
Spring lamb numbers at marts have also been small to date, with numbers slow to come on stream and achieving prices that farmers say have not reflected rising input costs.
With large numbers of hoggets coming through the system since the turn of the year, and in particular since buying began for Ramadan and in the run up to Easter where strong kills were seen, it looks as if hogget supplies are getting tight.
This has been seen at marts in the last week or so and prices have also been edging back. This is also partly down to quality becoming variable and factories moving their focus towards spring lambs.
This may change soon
However, with grass growth starting to kick on and hoggets drying up, it should hopefully see more lambs come on stream as demand is getting stronger, in light of fewer hoggets becoming available.
Farmers who have cut back on meal feeding this year will hopefully be able to take advantage of grazed grass to reduce costs and leave a greater margin for themselves.
Kill figures up to the start of May back-up the tighter number of spring lambs coming through the system this year, with spring lamb throughput back nearly 6,000 head on this time last year.
To date this year, nearly 27,000 spring lambs have been processed, which is back 18% on the same period last year.
A tough spring in relation to grass growth, unforeseen increases in input costs and sluggish demand has made it a tough start to the year for spring lambs.
However, if prices stay to the level at what they are and farmers can keep costs down anyway at all, it should make for greater margins to be achieved.