Lambs edge towards £150 as demand holds and supply tightens

Liveweight hoggs have jumped in value by more than £1/kg over the past month, with buoyant demand supported by Ramadan, which comes to an end with Eid al-Fitr on 21 April.

Auctioneers say both well-finished export lambs and heavy hoggs are seeing a superb trade, and tighter supply should help to prop up prices moving forward.

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Hoggs averaged 309.67p/kg at GB auction markets for the week ending 18 April. After a steady start to the year, prices are now back above last year’s levels – currently standing at a 33p/kg premium on the same week 12 months ago.

Industry reports suggest that much of the improvement is being driven by higher prices at live auction markets as processors continue to play catch up.

A “tremendous” trade at Welshpool Livestock Sales on Monday 17 April saw hoggs average 322.9p/kg, with competitive bidding on all weights and grades.

The best hoggs at Welshpool were averaging more than 350p/kg liveweight, with a strong demand reported from exporters wanting to fill orders in Europe.

At Sedgemoor Auction Centre on the same day, hoggs averaged £144.78 a head with an improved trade across all categories.

Greater numbers of spring lambs have also started coming forward this week from early lambers, and prices have been strong.

New season lambs accounted for 5% of the throughputs at auction markets this week and averaged 365p/kg.

At Welshpool, spring lambs averaged £156.56 a head, or 377.1p/kg, with the best lambs achieving £170 a head.


The GB deadweight SQQ averaged 636.3p/kg for the week ending 15 April, with some processors now paying closer to £7/kg.

Prices on the continent have also been improving, with heavy lambs averaging €7.52/kg (663p/kg) deadweight during the first week of April, according to EU Commission data.

Jonny Williams, joint operations director of livestock marketing group Farmstock, said trade had been “extraordinary”.

“We’ve had Easter and we are coming to the end of Ramadan now and there has been fantastic demand,” he said.

“The hogg numbers just simply aren’t there. Everybody has targeted the festival and Easter, we’ve gone through that now and numbers are much tighter. It’s good news for those guys who held their nerve. The messages we are getting is that the hoggs aren’t there and the processors are wanting them.”

Mr Williams said deadweight prices in Scotland were at about 690p/kg, with some approaching £7/kg.

Supply tightening

During the first three months of 2023, lamb throughputs were 27% higher than the same period last year, according to Defra figures.

However, in recent weeks, throughputs have begun to drop back as supply tightens. Looking forward, supply is expected to remain tight throughout April and May, which should help to support prices.