Easter and spring lamb production should get a premium price as demand for hoggets and lambs will strengthen over the coming weeks, according to the Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA).

Commenting, IFA National Sheep Committee chairman Sean Dennehy said buying for the Easter trade is in full swing – and will be followed immediately afterwards by Ramadan, which starts on Tuesday, April 13.

“Numbers are extremely tight and factories and wholesalers are competing strongly for supplies. Factories are paying €7.30-€7.40/kg for QA hoggets, with higher deals available for groups and larger lots,” he said.

Spring lamb quotes have increased, with up to €7.80/kg on offer.

Cull ewes are making from €2.90-€3.20/kg in general.

Continuing, Dennehy said the strong and improving market conditions must be reflected in prices to farmers.

He said early lamb producers must be rewarded with a premium for spring lambs above hogget values that reflects the costs associated with the production system and the long-term commitment of these farmers in providing high-cost lamb for factories.

Current prices for spring lamb are “not reflective of the value of this premium product” and the costs associated with producing it, he stressed.

Prices paid by factories for spring lamb must be increased, he added.

Concluding, Dennehy said demand is strong, numbers are tight and farmers should sell hard to maximise returns.