It is often said that good things comes to those who wait and it has certainly been a drawn out one for lamb producers. Some quotes are up.
While farmers will not be jumping up and down with excitement, the increase does seem to be the first in an eternity, albeit only from a few of the plants. Still, let's be grateful for small mercies.
A 5c/kg rise moves the two ICMs into pole position on a base quote of 425c/kg plus the bonus of 6c/kg. The end result from Kildare for quality assured lambs is similar due to their unchanged base of 420c/kg being topped up by their two 5c/kg bonuses. Both Kepak factories remain on 420c/kg plus the bonus, while Dawn Ballyhaunis is offering an all-in figure of 425c/kg for quality assured lambs. Moyvalley are also on an all-in quote of 430c/kg.
The cull ewes show the biggest improvement, with quotes jumping by 5-10c/kg. Again it is the ICM plants that are making the biggest moves and their 10c/kg rise bringing them level with Kildare Chilling on a quote of 240c/kg. Kepak Hacketstown have also improved by 10c/kg to move to 235c/kg. A 5c/kg increase leaves the two western plants – Dawn and Kepak Athleague – on 225c/kg.
IFA sheep chairman James Murphy said at current prices, hogget finishers are in a serious loss-making situation. He said that even with a price of 435c/kg, that the weight limits needed to be lifted to 23kg. He is particularly worried about imports from Britain into Northern Ireland.
The IFA expects to meet with the NFU and French sheep farmers to halt any under-selling. The IFA will also be meeting with processors and retailers on lamb prices over the coming weeks. According to the CSO, sheepmeat output increased by almost 12pc to 54,000t during 2012.
Prices fell in Britain following further weakening of sterling against the euro and a slight increase in supplies. By the weekend, new season lambs at live markets across Britain were making the equivalent of around €3.93/kg deadweight.
In France, trade remained steady. By the end of the week, the Irish grade 1 lamb price was still €4.00/kg.
The lift in factory quotes also helped the trade at the marts.
Most marts reported improvements of between €1-5/hd. Well- fleshed lambs fit for slaughter were generally selling for €40-47 over the €/kg. Some top quality lots made from €47-56 over. Store prices ranged from €35-60 for mountainy types or lighter stores and €55-75 for the heavier lowland stores. While the best of the cull ewes struggled to make up to €100, most were selling between €80-100. Ewes with single and or twin lambs at foot made anything from €106-175 with reports of some units making up to €200.
The top price at Enniscorthy Mart was for cull ewes at €96 with a range of €75-96 paid for the well-fleshed lots. Feeders sold for €30-55/hd. The highest price for lambs was €95 as butcher lots made from €40-46 with their weight.
The sheep trade was slightly improved at Dowra Mart on Saturday last with the best of the store lambs making from €60-85 each. Mountainy stores sold for €35-55 with lighter lowland stores moved at €45-60. Heavier lambs made from €85-98. Cull ewe prices ran from €35-60 for feeding lots up to €60-90/hd for the fleshier types.
Mountbellew had larger numbers on offer to previous weeks and reported a full clearance. There was noticeably more farmer activity for ewes with lambs at foot. Lambs over 46kg were commanding prices of €40-49 over their weight. Stores were scarce in supply and varied in price from €58-75. The numbers of cull ewes were down. Demand was strong however and prices ran from €68-100. Aged ewes with a lamb or lambs at foot sold from €106-160/unit. A slight improvement by €2-3/hd was reported from Baltinglass Mart. The heavy lambs were selling for €75-94/hd while store prices ranged from €50-75. Cull ewes sold for €40-85 each.
A smaller than normal number of sheep at Carnew mart saw trade improved by €3-5/hd for all classes. Butcher and factory lamb prices ranged from €90-101/hd. Stores made from €57-83. Cull ewes sold for €55-98.