With the seasonal scarcity of goats for meat kicking in, mutton prices in the region have hit the roof.
The selling cost has breached 750 per kilogram, forcing a large number of non-vegetarian restaurants to take mutton dishes off the menu.
A 10-kg goat costs 6,000 onwards. Yet, the demand far exceeds the supply in the Samayapuram market, the largest in Tiruchi district, operated on Saturdays. On other days of the week, the sellers purchase goats from the sandhais held in Ariyalur, Thottiyam, Viralimalai and Manapparai.
A number of meat sellers from the region choose to go in groups to Kannivadi in the Western region of the State to purchase the Mecheri breed of sheep which is sought after by biriyani restaurants, Razaak, a mutton stall owner in Thuvakudi said.
Regular customers grumble over the price and many of them choose to cut down the quantum of purchase, but do not return home empty-handed. The price-rise may be a bitter pill to swallow, but that has not deterred mutton consumption, Hakeem, a meat seller in Tiruverumbur, said.
The supply would be better in the coming months, the mutton stall owners hope.
Farmers who rear the goats for selling in the weekly markets usually dispose of their stocks before the onset of cultivation season as there would be less space for grazing. This season, the abundance of water owing to strong monsoon rains and sufficient flow in the Cauvery River has prompted farmers to prioritise cultivation over livestock rearing. The situation will be better after the harvest season, an official of the Animal Husbandry department explained.