independent

Wednesday 16 April 2014

New year gloom as lamb prices slump

Irish International soccer player Jonathan Walters and our lamb producers experienced similar heartache over the weekend.

While poor old Walters was scoring two own goals and missing a penalty in Saturday's Premiership outing for Stoke City, farmers selling lambs were being quoted 90c/kg less than what they were offered this time last year.

In many cases the carcase weight is also 0.5kg less. When all this is added up, the farmer on a quote of a base 510c/kg last January to 23kg was ending up on a price of €117.30.

Today that same factory is quoting a base of 420c/kg to 22.5kg reflecting a price of €94.50. This is a reduction of almost €23 per lamb.

And the cut in prices could even be greater as farmers are finding it difficult to get factories to go above 435c/kg, whereas lamb producers were negotiating prices of as high 535-540c/kg 12 months ago.

I should point out that this slump is not all the factories' fault. The markets are not good and prices in Britain and France are not giving us any cause for optimism.

In any case, the only plant to retain its quote at last week's level is Moyvalley where an all-in 440c/kg is available. The ICMs and Kepak Athleague have reduced their base by 9c/kg to 425c/kg plus the bonus for U grades. A drop of 10c/kg leaves Kildare on 420c/kg plus the 5c/kg bonus for QA lambs on top of the normal 5c/kg. Kepak Hacketstown's 420c/kg plus 5c/kg reflects a 15c/kg reduction, while an all-in quote of 425c/kg from Dawn Ballyhaunis is 13c/kg below the level they were at last week.

IFA's James Murphy said that with feeders already losing money, factories needed to stabilise prices and to pass back the maximum from the markets and also to move weights up to 23kg.

He added that prices were generally ranging from 430c/kg to 435c/kg, with up to 440c/kg paid in places. Thankfully, the very slight change to the cull ewes is a positive one, with a 5c/kg improvement from Kepak Athleague bringing them up closer to the rest at 215c/kg. The ICM plants, Dawn and Kepak Hacketstown remain on 220c/kg, with Kildare still tops with their quote of 230c/kg

The past week's sheep trade was described as steady by An Bord Bia, despite a significant increase in throughput levels since the Christmas period, as demand levels remain firm on the domestic market.

MARTS

The mart trade for the sheep and especially the lambs has remained fairly steady over the past week, despite the drop in prices from the processors. A few marts even reported slight rises to the trade.

However, prices are still nothing to get excited about with the heavy lambs between 46-54kg generally moving at €45-55 with their weight. A few top quality lots made from €55-59 over.

Lambs of 40-46 kg were making between €35 and €45 with the €1/kg, while stores ranged from €30 to €40 with the weight.

Cull ewes with flesh were selling for €65-96, with feeders making between €35-60 in the main.

Depending on age, quality and number of lambs they were scanned as carrying, breeding ewes made anything from €80 to €200/hd.

I spoke to one or two managers that commented on the need for some farmers to try and present their lambs a bit better. When lambs are dagged they look a lot cleaner and tidier and it also helps to keep the rest of the lambs cleaner.

Fermoy Mart had a good trade for the heavy quality lamb yesterday, with many of the well made lambs over 48kg making in excess of the €50 with the €1/kg. Top price paid was €114 or €59 over for 55kg.

Lambs of 45-50kg were selling for €40-48 over the weight. Lighter types made from €33-41 over. The finished lamb at Athenry Mart was making from €40 to €50 over the €1/kg. Stores ranged between €32 and €39 with their weight.

Trade at Kilkenny Mart was similar to last week with the butcher lambs making €36-48 over their weight. Factory lots made €35-47 over, while stores were selling for €30-35 over.

Carnew Mart had 1,020 sheep for sale. Fat lambs were probably up by €1/kg, while the store trade was steady. Butcher and factory lambs sold for €87-102. Store prices ran from €55 to €82. Cull ewes ranged from €45 to €96. Ewes scanned in-lamb made €80-150

At Dowra Mart on Saturday last the best of the store lambs were making from €60 to €80/hd, with the lighter lambs making €35-55 each. Feeding cull ewes made €35-55 each, while a few pens of ewes with twin lambs at foot sold from €160 to €200/hd.

Ewes with singles made from €100 to €160 each.

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