Deadweight lamb prices have soared this week to average 262.7p/kg for R3L hoggets, a rise of 20p/kg on the week and 10p/kg on the same time last year.

Liveweight prices have also jumped in recent weeks as traders attempt to meet a big demand from European countries, particularly France.

Indications suggest consumers are favouring sheepmeat as an alternative to poultry given the continuing presence of avian flu in northern Europe.

But other deadweight buyers said that cold, dry weather, particularly in south west England, meant abattoirs were having to pay a premium for properly finished hoggets.