Hogget prices reached 5-year high last year, but national flock numbers expected to decline

Photo Brian Farrell
Photo Brian Farrell
Claire Fox

Claire Fox

The country's national sheep flock is expected to decline this year, despite hogget prices reaching a five-year high last year.

Bord Bia Sheepmeat specialist Declan Fennell said that the extreme weather of 2018 and Brexit uncertainty impacted the sheepmeat industry which had almost 3m throughput last year.

He pointed out that the number of spring lambs were down due to the weather last year.

“The extreme weather of 2018 presented challenges for our sheep farmers particularly around the time of lambing. Losses were incurred and costs of meal increased and this was further compounded due to lack of grass growth in the summer and increased supplementation and meal,” he said.

“The cold spring and difficult summer led to more protracted contraction from hoggets to new season lamb and the critical mass of new season lamb was up from June but average hogget prices reached a five year high of 0.68c/kg more than last year.

Some 432,000 head came from Northern Ireland to be processed last year which Mr Fennell said would be a concern if WTO tarrifs of 80.5c/kg per animal are imposed.

He also said he expects the national flock to decline this year.


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The seminar also heard that the forecast for pigmeat is expected to stabilise for 2019 despite pressure and low production prices.

Bord Bia Pig and Poultry specialist Peter Duggan told delegates at its Meat Marketing seminar that production prices were down 13pc last year, so the value of our exports have fallen by 6pc.

"African Swine Fever is a big issue in China, 600,000 pigs have been culled and are washing up on shores. This has led for strong growth for poultry consumption in China.”

Gira’s Robert Brown highlighted how poultry prices in China reached an all time high in 2018 due to the turn away from pigmeat as a result of African Swine Flu.

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