Hogg and spring lamb values have found a firmer footing as marts work hard to maintain supply amid market chaos.
Old season lambs were 8p/kg dearer on the year at 216.32p/kg last week and spring lambs were 17p/kg dearer on the year at 266.720/kg, leaving vendors left to speculate on where trade would have been without Covid-19.
French markets are slowly reopening, and product is moving to the Continent once again, although it requires more traceability paperwork, according to AHDB analyst Rebecca Wright.
Truro saw 144 spring lambs average 330.5p/kg and 118 at SQQ weights to average 240.1p/kg last week (15 April).
Truro’s most sought-after spring lambs fall into the 43-45kg bracket, which auctioneer Ed Harris of Lodge and Thomas says is what local abattoirs and butchers want.
“At this time of year, it’s important not to focus solely on weight,” Mr Harris told Farmers Weekly. “Farmers should try to market new season lambs when in full bloom, fresh coated, but well-finished.”
He added that a “respectable” trade over the past three weeks hopefully indicated price would hold in the short-term.
He said a late season entry of 225 hoggs averaged 193.8p/kg last week and that hoggs should be marketed now to maximise returns.
“We have seen a difference of around £20 a head on hoggs which have incisor teeth erupting.”
An entry of 108 springers averaged 295.1p/kg and topped at 356p/kg and £138.84 at Bakewell on Monday (20 April), where some butchers have made the switch to spring lamb.
Bagshaws sheep auctioneer Peter Oven said numbers were back on historical levels, possibly due to fewer early lambers in the area and some vendor caution.
He said holding on to lambs for another fortnight to put 2-3kg on them was being tried by some, but he stressed that at Bakewell it was 36-40kg spring lambs that were wanted.
“Spring lambs over the 40kg mark are discounted here. They often get the hogg price.”
He said hogg trade had been supported by farm shops and butchers, with a pen of 54kg hoggs making 268p/kg at £144 a head, although hoggs with erupted teeth could see 30-40p/kg deductions, depending on the type of lamb and the buyer.
Mr Oven said vendors returning to the mart from selling deadweight in recent weeks would probably see a liveweight premium for quality, three-quarter continental-bred lambs sold at 42-44kg.
The approximate reduction in New Zealand lamb processing capacity due to Covid-19 restrictions. Lower Chinese demand has balanced this drop-in production.
How much spring lambs were up on the year last week
The average hogg price on Monday (20 April) as 9,079 hoggs were sold through the marts