Unlike the clocks over the weekend there is no real change to the lamb trade as far as this week's factory quotes are concerned. But factory sources were, when contacted yesterday morning, not overly optimistic for the week ahead.
They were basing this on large supplies both here and in Britain, as well as the Muslim festivals easing off.
The base quote of 440c/kg plus the bonus remains on offer from all of the plants apart from Kildare Chilling who are not quoting for lambs today. Moyvalley's quote of an all-in 440c/kg is the only other move and the drop of 10c/kg shifts them from the top of the pile to the bottom and they are not quoting for light lambs this week either.
Despite the quotes, however, there are a number of lambs being slaughtered this week at stand-on prices from last week of between 460-465c/kg to weights of 21.5-22kg. This was more common in the east of the country than elsewhere. Farmers had to bargain hard but it was available from a number of factories.
If your lambs are overweight make sure you are not going to be penalised as I have heard from a few farmers that were very angry with the penalties they got where their lambs killed out in excess of the cut-off point. Again I will say that if you have heavy stock the mart is by far the best place to sell those.
The IFA's James Murphy said that it is vital for the factories to maintain prices in order to keep confidence in the trade and especially the store lamb trade. He added that farmers were concerned with some of the negative talk from the processors.
He stressed the absolute need for farmers to get the "line in the sand" price of €100/lamb in order to ensure that the high costs of production this year are at a minimum covered.
The ICM plants and Kildare lead the way on 200c/kg for the cull ewes. Dawn Ballyhaunis have reduced their quote by 10c/kg to 190c/kg. Kepak Athleague are offering an unchanged 175c/kg.
Trade across Britain eased in response to sterling strengthening against the euro, with demand levels being relatively steady on the French market, Bord Bia stated. By the weekend, new season lambs at live markets across Britain were making the equivalent of around €4.42/kg including VAT.
In France, lamb supplies continued to be dominated by British product. Trade remained underpinned by steady demand from the Muslim community in response to the Eid al-Adha festival. This meant that demand for Irish grade 1 spring lamb has been maintained, with prices still making up to €4.73/kg by the end of the week. Some increase in demand is anticipated again for next week as the French celebrate All Saints day this Thursday.
Meanwhile, according to the recently published results from the CSO June 2012 survey, sheep numbers in this country were almost 7pc ahead of June 2011, at 5.15m head. The breeding flock increased by almost 6pc to 2.65m head.
Depending on which mart you spoke to the sheep trade seemed to vary over the past week, with some reporting an improvement to the finished lambs while others had the opposite view.
At Fermoy Mart yesterday the good fleshy heavy lamb was selling from €45 to €54 with their weight. Lighter lambs were making from €38-45 over. The heavy lambs at Athenry Mart struggled to get up to €50 over the €1/kg, with most moving at prices of €40-49 over. Stores sold for €33-42 with the weight.
Carnew Mart had 4.000 sheep on offer. Factory lambs were easier by €2/hd. Butcher and factory lambs sold for €86-102 each. Store prices ran from €55 to €78/hd. Ewe lambs sold for €70-112. Prices for cull ewes ranged from €35 to €98/hd, while breeding ewes made from €80 to €185. Breeding rams made €120-440.
Dowra Mart saw 2,000 sheep offered for sale. The best pens of Suffolk and Suffolk cross stores made from €60 to €78, while the lighter stores and mountain lambs sold for €30-60 each. The tops of the ewe lambs for breeding ranged from €75 to €98. The heavier ewes made from €60 to €90 each.