Finished old season lambs are continuing to hit record prices through the live ring – well after Easter and Ramadan.

With Ramadan coming to an end on April, 9, many thought the sheep trade would collapse, but with the majority of 2023 lamb crop having been cashed when the market has remained buoyant for most of the year, numbers are thin on the ground.

Add in what is expected to be a significantly smaller and later 2024 lamb crop due to the impact of schmallenberg in the south and horrendous lambing weather in Scotland, and the hogg trade is expected to remain firm well into June.

“It’s numbers that will determine the job and there are not the old season lambs to sell when farmers have been selling away at them on a regular basis when the trade has been so good,” said Peter Wood, sheep auctioneer at United Auctions, Stirling.

Such was the trade at Stirling last week, which was staged after Ramadan, that the firm averaged 398p per kg for just shy of 6000 prime hoggs, up a penny on the week when 6785 prime hoggs were cashed.

“We saw the same buyers at the sale as the previous week and there is still a strong export market as the numbers appear to be tight everywhere including on the continent,” said Mr Wood who doesn’t expect to see finished spring lambs forward in any numbers until mid June.

Lawrie and Symington’s Lanark market also saw an improved trade on the week at their sale on Monday which averaged 409p per kg.

“The big thing is the numbers when so many farmers have already sold their lambs when the trade was so good. On Monday we sold 2130 hoggs compared to 3600 the previous year, but we’d already sold those 1500 hoggs earlier in the year,” said head sheep auctioneer at Lanark, Archie Hamilton.

“The fat trade is up at least £1 per kg on the year and the store trade is a good £30 per head up when the next Muslim festival is mid June, for which some farmers are already holding sheep for.”

Harrison and Hetherington’s Carlisle and Kirkby Stephen Auction Marts have also seen new highs for old season lambs this week.

On Monday at Borderway Mart, the firm sold 3424 hoggs to average £192.86 per head or 415p per kg with an SQQ 423p.

On Tuesday at Kirkby Stephen an overall average of 425.83p or £198.44 was achieved with an SQQ average of 443.47p.