THERE looks to be no let up in the prime hogg trade this week as markets the length and breadth of the country welcomed significant increases on the week, in the region of 40p per kg, with some up more than £1 per kg on year earlier levels. 

This comes after the GB liveweight SQQ hogg price increased by 7.68p on the week to 240.07p per kg for the week ended April 4, which, more significantly, was 61.77p above last year. In Scotland, for the week ended April 7, hoggs cashed in to average 249.16p, with SQQ hoggs at 251.72p. This increase was, in part, due to fewer numbers forward compared to the previous week as, through Scottish auctions to the week ended April 4, some 12,497 hoggs were sold, nearly half the number of the previous week when 22,335 were traded. 

Some of the dearest prices last week were witnessed at Aberdeen and Northern Marts’ Thainstone centre, where 4782 hoggs cashed in to average 284.3p, a rise of 46.5p on the week, with 2786 SQQ hoggs at 287.1p. 

“We saw a phenomenal rise in trade last week, as did most markets, but I’ve never seen trade like it,” said ANM’s deputy head of livestock and sheep auctioneer, Colin Slessor, whose hogg entry peaked at 265.5p for 42kg Beltex from Pityot, Bridge of Muchalls, and £158.50 for 51kg Texels from Newton of Lewesk, Old Rayne. 

“We’ve got a good quality of stock up here though, as there’s a lot of very well-bred lambs that are being sold with a good bit of finish on them, and that’s what the boys are wanting – a bit of weight with a good finish. But good, well-finished Blackfaces were up to £147 and the average price per head of £126.21 was a true average that included in the region of 100 from the Shetland Isles.

“I thought numbers would be tightening up a bit, but we’ve got more than 6000 entered for this week’s sale and the buyers keep coming back for more,” continued Mr Slessor, adding cull ewes took a jump this week for all breeds, with Mules hitting £110 to £120 per head. 

Heading south, C and D Auction Marts’ Longtown also welcomed a strong trade at last week’s sale of 2241, which averaged 272p but those in the 39.5kg to 45kg bracket cashed in to average 290p, with Longtown auctioneer, Bruce Walton, echoing the need for hoggs to be well-fleshed in order to meet the best of the trade. The near-weekly consignment of Beltex from Jimmy Taylor, Easter Ochtermuthill, headed up the Longtown offering at £170 or 387p per kg.

“The numbers are still coming forward, although some are short of meat, but heavyweights are selling well compared to last year as it wasn’t until May that the heavy trade picked up,” said Mr Walton. 

“It’s all about the supply and demand situation at the minute as there’s very little New Zealand lamb coming through – most is going to China. And with a month to six weeks still to go in the hogg market, I don’t think the numbers are there in general, so I’d expect the trade to continue. With prices being this good, vendors should think about selling them if they’re ready. If they’ve not got the meat cover for the fat ring, they should think about selling through the store ring as prices are holding up well,” he added. 

Deadweight prices are creeping upwards too as the GB average for SQQ hoggs levelled at 547.2p for the week ended April 7, which compares to 536.7p the previous week and is well up on the 417.1p received during the same period last year. This marks the 23rd week of consecutive growth in the deadweight market and is now at the highest level ever seen across both the new season and old season lamb figures, with the previous highest price recorded in May, 2013.