Factories are trying to take greater control of the hogget and lamb trade in recent days, with quotes pulled by 10c/kg to 20c/kg.

The two Irish Country Meats (ICM) plants in Camolin and Navan have reduced their hogget quote by 20c/kg to €9.00/kg, while Kildare Chilling is not offering an official hogget quote for Thursday.

Plants are trying to stick closer to quoted prices and this is true of hoggets traded from producers with lower negotiating power.

Reports indicate there is still specialist finishers securing returns ranging from €9.40/kg to €9.50/kg upwards.

Factories are also trying to ease spring lamb quotes, with the two ICM plants quoting a base of €9.30/kg plus 20c/kg QA payment. This is a reduction of 20c/kg on the week.

Kildare Chilling is unchanged on the week, with its base quote of €9.50/kg plus 10c/kg QA payment, but is 10c/kg down on the start of the week, while Ballon Meats is quoting €9.50/kg.

Reports again point to factories trying to bring prices paid closer in line to quotes.

This has been reflected in mart sales, where agents have been more cautious in their buying and trying to work closer to equivalent deadweight prices.

Prices at the higher end of the market range from €9.60/kg to €9.70/kg.

Factories have been operating at a much lower intensity in recent weeks, with last week’s throughput again reported by the Department of Agriculture at just 34,712 head, the second week the kill has remained at less than 35,000 sheep.

This compares with 52,033 for the corresponding week in 2023, with throughput over 17,300 head lower, which is hard to believe with prices running over €1.50/kg higher.

The kill continues to be dominated by hoggets, with 27,907 head handled. The spring lamb kill of 3,157 head is less than half the figure of 8,335 in 2023, while the ewe and ram kill of 3,646 head is 1,931 lower year on year.

While plants are trying to ease hogget and lamb quotes, their appetite remains strong for cull ewes.

The two ICM plants and Ballon Meats top the quotes at €4.20/kg. Regular sellers are securing 10c/kg to 15c/kg higher, with top prices reported in the region of €4.40/kg to €4.50/kg.

The mart trade also remains vibrant for top-quality ewes, with agents competing with greater purchasing power with those purchasing ewes for exporting live.

Northern trade

Base quotes in factories in Northern Ireland have reduced by 20p/kg to 30p/kg.

Hogget quotes range from £7.40/kg to £7.60/kg (€8.63/kg to €8.87/kg), with top prices ranging from £7.70/kg to £7.80/kg (€9.10/kg).

Lamb base quotes have also reduced by 20p/kg to a base of £8/kg (€9.33/kg). Interest in lambs is variable, with many plants continuing to focus on hoggets due in part to small numbers in the market.