Weekly sheep kill falls 17% as hogget supplies continue to tighten

There has been a marked reduction in the number of sheep slaughtered in sheepmeat plants last week, recent figures from the Department of Agriculture show.

During the week ending March 28, the number of sheep killed in Irish sheepmeat processing plants dropped by 8,228 head or 17% on the week before.

The majority of this decrease is as a result of reduced hogget numbers, which are back by over 14% or over 6,000 head.

Figures from the Department show that the weekly hogget kill has dropped over the past three weeks, as supplies are becoming scare on the ground, due to the hogget season coming to a close.

In other years, the number of spring lambs coming on stream would usually be increasing at this stage, but figures show that the week-on-week spring lamb kill dropped by 1,622 head last week on the week ending March 21.

But, despite the week-on-week throughput of spring lambs falling, many factories maintained the spring lamb base price at 640c/kg.

During the week ending March 28, there was also a fall in the number of cast slaughterings, with the throughput of ewes and rams falling by 902 head or 16% on the previous week.

sheep kill

Week-on-week sheep kill changes:
  • Hoggets: -6,010 head (-4%)
  • Spring lambs: -1,622 (-60%)
  • Ewes and rams: -902 head (-16%)
  • Total: -8,228 head (-17%)

Cumulative sheep kill

Meanwhile, the cumulative number of sheep killed to date is 9% higher than the same time in 2015, Department figures show.

The hogget kill is up by 6% on 2015 levels, with 27,334 head slaughtered this year to the week ending March 28.

The cumulative number of spring lambs slaughtered so far this year is also up on last year’s levels, with an additional 2,355 head slaughtered to date.

Official figures also show that there has been an increase in the total number of cast slaughterings, with the ewe and ram kill up 32% or 18,652 head on last year’s levels.