Factories are this week moving to discount the importance of hogget throughput in the weekly kill.

The two Irish Country Meats (ICM) plants have reduced their hogget quotes by 20c/kg to €8.80/kg plus their 20c/kg quality assurance (QA) payment, while Kildare Chilling is not quoting for hoggets.

Other plants not quoting are reported as pulling their hogget quote anywhere from 30c/kg to 50c/kg.

While plants are switching their attention to lambs, hoggets remain an important part of the weekly kill, reflected by last week’s throughput of just 39,216 head comprising 18,218 hoggets.

This is almost 1,800 head higher than lambs and it is hard to see factories being able to move their attention solely to lambs with such tight numbers present.

Last week’s lamb kill of 16,431 head was some 9,228 head lower than the corresponding week in 2023.

Specialist finishers with large numbers continue to negotiate well above quotes, with top prices this week ranging from €9.20/kg to upwards of €9.40/kg.

Lamb base quotes are unchanged, with the two ICM plants quoting a base of €9.30/kg plus 20c/kg QA, while Ballon Meats is quoting €9.50/kg.

Kildare Chilling is not quoting for lambs for Thursday.

Reports show a high percentage of QA lambs trading from €9.50/kg to €9.60/kg, with prices at the top end of the market rising to €9.70/kg.

Ewe quotes remain firm and are in the region of €4.20/kg in most plants. Top prices are 10c/kg to 20c/kg higher, with plants such as Ballon Meats active for quality ewes and quoting upwards of €4.40/kg.

Northern Ireland

Plants in Northern Ireland are also putting an increased focus on lambs and have stopped quoting for hoggets.

There are still deals being completed with specialist finishers. Base lamb quotes for Thursday have been pulled by 20p/kg to 30p/kg to £7.80/kg (€9.17/kg). Producer groups and regular sellers are securing 10p/kg to 20p/kg higher but securing upwards of £8/kg has become increasingly challenging.

Numbers exported for direct slaughter to Ireland increased by over 300 head last week to 3,942, while exports to Britain are said to have eased from over 3,000 head in recent peak weeks to less than 2,000 head.

The latest prices reported by the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board shows lamb prices for the week ending 25 May reducing by 34p/kg to £8.93/kg. This is the equivalent of €10.50/kg at an exchange rate of 85p to the euro, with a significant differential remaining between prices in Britain plus Northern Ireland and Ireland.

Hogget prices have reduced by a lower figure of 10p/kg to £8.17/kg (€9.60/kg). Unlike plants in Northern Ireland, there is still a firm focus on hoggets and this is likely to remain heading into the Eid al-Adha festival.