The fast approaching Islamic festival Eid al-Adha, coupled with the growing Muslim population in the UK, has bolstered the sheepmeat trade, with prime lamb values up at virtually every live market, this week.

The festival which is based on the lunar calendar and this year is expected to fall on Aug 21 – moving back 10-11 days each year – sees butchers stock up on meat for the Eid meal seven to 10 days before the festival, with the animals (Qurbani) purchased for that meal bought up to three weeks before.

"The sheep trade should be ok for the next two to three weeks on the build up to the festival but after that it could slip again," said Archie Hamilton, new sheep auctioneer at Lawrie and Symington's Lanark centre, adding that lambs had to be "fleshy," to add value.

Monday's trade at Lanark, saw prime lambs jump almost 4p per live kg on the week to 186.5p and for 2113 – almost 100% more than at the previous sale.

This compares to Craig Wilson's sale at Ayr, where 1473 lambs cashed in at 183.6p, up 7.5p on the week for 8.4% more; Harrison and Hetherington's sale at St Boswell, where 1305 levelled at 187.4p, a rise of 8.8p and for 1.7% more and H and H's prime sale at Carlisle, on Monday, where 1936 averaged 187.3p, up 8.4p for an extra 53%.

This increase in price is a huge boost to the industry when prime lamb values for the past couple of weeks have been below that of 2017.

Add to that the recent rain in much of Scotland, and increased grass growth and Mr Hamilton is confident the store lamb trade will not be as bad as expected either.

"Finishing lambs have not done as well this year purely because of the lack of grass, but they should start to flesh up now when the countryside has greened up pretty well in Lanarkshire and in the South-west. It should help the store lamb trade too," he said.

Backing up these statements, Alastair Logan, sheep auctioneer at Caledonian Marts, Stirling, said their prime sale for ewes and lambs on Tuesday was well up on the week due to the forth coming Muslim festival, and that their first store lamb sale on Monday, was back just £1.95 per head on the year.

"All classes were dearer on the week and especially the heavier lambs 42+kg lambs, with the overall prime sale average up 9p on the week at 185.5p," said Alastair.

"Commercial lambs were £3-£4 per head up on the week and anything at 47-48kg was making £87-£91 per head – the difference between a 40kg and 43kg lamb was as much as a £10 just because buyers were looking for the fleshiest lambs.

"Numbers have been slow to come forward this year due to the lack of grass – we'd be down 30-40% on the year compared to the same sale last year – but they'll start to come now."

It was a similar scenario amongst the ewes, with heavy sorts well up, again due to the forth coming festival, Mr Logan said.

Commenting on the company's store sale, he said: "We had more than 1000 lambs forward and anyone selling was happy enough with their trade. The grass is coming through now so people are still looking for lambs to buy when the trade was so good in March/April this year."

The big issue this year however will be the shortage of numbers due to the horrendous spring. "Lambs are just not there this year. Some vendors won't have any to sell," added Alastair.

While sheep values in the UK have been pretty dire in recent weeks, trade in New Zealand and Australia has reached record breaking levels recently and is showing little sign of abating.

In New Zealand, there has been 14 consecutive weeks of rises, with no week-on-week decline since the middle of February. In the most recent week, the NZ North Island lamb price reached 820 cents/kg, according to NZ Farmers Weekly. Due to the GB deadweight lamb SQQ slipping during recent weeks, on sterling terms New Zealand prices currently stands around 8p below GB prices (w/ending July 28). Until last autumn is was unusual for the premium of GB to NZ prices to be less than 50p/kg.

Prices on the global sheep meat market have been strong for the past 18 months and in Australia, prices stood at 798 AUS cents in the week ending July 26, setting a new record high according to data from the NRLS. During the following week (ending August 2), the price slipped 10 cents, to 788 cents. For the most recent week of comparable data in GB and Australia, the Australian price stood just over 30p above the GB price.

Reports suggest supplies are tight on the global market due to growing demand, especially from Asia. Supplies at this time of year are typically tighter anyway, depending upon frozen stocks, due to the seasonality of supply in Australia and New Zealand.

However, sheep meat prices down under may already be reaching a level where some consumers will have to consider the meat a treat, so while they may be willing to pay more, the amount they buy could fall. This will leave the industry more dependent on exports, as supplies begin to pick up from farmers who have expanded because of higher prices, perhaps finding demand at home struggling.