DURING the week ending March 28, the GB live-weight prime hogg SQQ (Standard Quality Quotation) which has been rallying since the start of the year paused, with a week-on-week decline of 2.09p, standing at 232.39p/kg. The quote currently stands almost 45p above year earlier levels.

Auction market throughputs rose by 8 per cent (10.600 head) week-on-week, to 136,100 head. Throughputs of cast ewes increased by 21 per cent (6,700 head), to 39,400 head.

However, in the week ended March 24, the GB deadweight prime hogg SQQ gained 18p week-on-week, to 529.2p per kg, which is 130.1p above year earlier levels. This is the highest this measure has ever stood, and only fractionally below the highest recorded level for deadweight new-season prime lamb SQQ which was recorded in May 2013. Estimated slaughtering for the week totalled 254,800 head, a 15 per cent rise on the same week last year. As well as the high price, part of the year-on-year increase in throughput is likely to be due to Easter falling earlier this year than last.

AHDB (Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board) estimates that the hold-over of lambs from 2017 into 2018 is higher year-on-year. In the year-to-date AHDB estimates that 10 per cent (254,700 head) more lambs have been killed compared to year earlier levels. Industry reports suggest that due to recent poor weather conditions there is currently a lack of new season lambs available for slaughter.

* Meanwhile, Muller has announced that dairy farmers in its Muller Direct Group will see estimated returns reduce to 26.2p per litre (ppl) for milk produced in May.

The company's standard litre price will reduce by 0.5ppl to 26ppl, but producers will benefit from an estimated retail supplement of over 0.2ppl for the month.

Market round-up

C&D Auction Marts Ltd sold 10 prime heifers in Dumfries on Wednesday to a top of 230p per kg and an average of 211.9p.

In the rough ring 26 beef cows sold to 184p and averaged 141.4p, while 36 dairy cows peaked at 151p and levelled at 119.3p.

The firm also sold 538 prime hoggs to a top of £137 per head and 278p per kg to average 226.1p (+4.5p on the week).

A nice show of 306 cast sheep saw heavy ewes sell to £169.50 for a Texel and average £86.14, while light/export-type ewes peaked at £80.50 for Blackfaces and levelled at £42.59.

Messrs Craig Wilson Ltd sold 512 prime hoggs in Newton Stewart on Wednesday to a top of £129 and 251.1p to average 208.4p (-16.4p).

Sixty-six heavy cast ewes sold to £152 for Suffolks and averaged £103.60, while 91 light ewes peaked at £76.50 for Blackfaces and levelled at £51.51.