The sheep trade is starting the week in a buoyant manner with factories keen to compensate for a day’s less processing and maximise throughput for Tuesday’s kill. Kildare Chilling increased its base hogget quote by 20c/kg on Thursday, putting the plant on a base of €8.30/kg plus a 10c/kg quality assurance (QA) payment.

Other competing plants have followed suit to stay in contention with base quotes rising by 10c/kg to 15c/kg. This leaves base quotes averaging in the region of €8.20/kg to €8.25/kg or an opening price in the region of €8.35/kg to €8.40/kg.

Groups and regular sellers with greater negotiating power are securing returns averaging in the region of €8.50/kg for R grade hoggets and €8.60/kg for U grade lots. Some deals are also being completed with allowances on transport costs or to 24kg carcase weight.

Prices at the top end of the market are surpassing those listed above and this is demonstrated in the purchasing power of agents in mart sales.


Prices reported from marts held over the weekend edged upwards by another €2 to €5 per head. Good-quality hoggets weighing 50kg to 52kg are trading from the low-to-mid €190s for plainer-quality or crossbred types with top-quality lots rising to and exceeding €200 per head.

Heavier hoggets weighing upwards of 53kg to 55kg are trading from €200 to €212 for fleshed lots with heavier a selection of superior-quality heavy hoggets rising as high as €220 to €225 on occasion. Lighter hoggets weighing 47kg to 49kg are trading anywhere from €180 to €192 on average with flesh cover having a big influence on prices paid.

Ewe trade

The ewe trade has firmed with quotes lifting by 10c/kg in cases. The main processing plants are quoting in the region of €3.40/kg for fleshed ewes but up to €3.60/kg and higher is being paid for good-quality ewes. Plants specialising in the ewe trade such as Ballon Meats are quoting €3.80/kg with top prices surpassing this mark.

The focus remains on hoggets but with numbers in such tight supply factories are opening the door for spring lambs. Quotes for spring lambs are in the region of €9.00/kg plus 20c/kg with the two Irish Country Meats plants the only factories offering an official quote for spring lamb to date.

Numbers coming on stream are low to date, but there is expected to be higher numbers coming on stream in the next 10 days as Easter approaches. A number of factories are keen to source spring lamb for niche market contracts with price quotes at €10/kg for lambs killing out between 10kg and 13kg carcase weight.