An earlier Easter combined with a strong demand for lamb and numbers of those coming forward falling, has seen a surge in prime sheep value once again.

Prices took another hike on the week and are pretty remarkably up on the year by as much as £1 per kg. As of April 3, the weekly average of prime sheep was 283.66p per kg, according to ADDB sources, or up 6.81p on the week.

“I have never sold prime and cast sheep as dear in my life as I did at Lanark on Monday, the trade was unbelievable,” commented Archie Hamilton, head sheep auctioneer at Lawrie and Symington’s Lanark Centre. He said the sale averaged 301p per kg, up a whopping £1 per kg on the corresponding week of last year.

“It is all down to the supply and demand, the numbers are just not there and more and more people seem to be wanting prime sheep. Lamb was popular on the run up to Easter and now with Ramadan on the horizon, demand will continue until the middle of May. Consumers are still at home and not away on holiday they are wanting food on their plates, so we need to find the numbers to supply it,” he said.

“I believe the trade will continue purely because the volumes are not there to fulfil it. It has been an exceptional year for the sheep industry,” he explained.

Further north, Colin Slessor, deputy head of livestock with Aberdeen and Northern Marts, agreed that numbers were starting to constrict again, which is causing prices to rise.

“The price is sky high and it is all down to numbers. They are tight and in demand, but the quality of hoggs is starting to slip. It is good to see trade remain high and long may it continue,” he said.

But, there was a widening price gap between the best and the worst: “Quality hoggs will be rewarded, good sheep are still up in the £140 bracket, whilst lean sheep are considerably less,” added Mr Slessor.

Across the Border, in Carlisle, it was the same story, according to James Little, auctioneer at Harrison and Hetherington. “Trade can be static at this time of year. Usually, following the Easter demand, trade can sometimes slip, but that has not been the case this year, it has actually continued to spring up,” he told The SF.

“We were up 18p per kg on the week,” said James, who sold 2175 hoggs at Carlisle on Monday to average 305p per kg, with a SQQ of 311p.

“Easter has been that bit earlier this year, so there are still the better hoggs available now. With Ramadan now in the foreseeable timeline, trade is only going to get dearer. The numbers are going to get tighter. There is a strong demand for hoggs and we simply just can’t meet it.

“All this mixed together makes the crazy trade, it is great to see prices up on the year, as long as everyone can make a £ out of it we are all happy,” he concluded.