Quotes hold strong after buoyant year
Sheep farmers didn't have to wait for Christmas week to be cheerful about their profession this year. Throughout the past 12 months, the sheep trade has been extremely satisfactory and the processors have definitely played their part in a year that has proved successful for an industry that has endured more than its fair share of tough times.
There is no let-up either, even as we approach the final few days of the year, with quotes holding strong at last week's levels and some even a shade stronger than they were last Tuesday. Most of the plants are working all this week and either Wednesday, Thursday and Friday for next week, or two out of those three days at least.
All the factories are pretty sure at this stage that they will resume killing again on Tuesday, January 3.
If you have lambs suitable for slaughter, there is quite often an attractive price paid between Christmas and the New Year or maybe even for the first few days when the plants re-open in January.
As for today's quotes, Moyvalley continues to set the pace with its all-in 500c/kg. Kildare Chilling is on a base of 484c/kg but it has two bonus payments of 6c/kg and 5c/kg. No change from the Kepak factories sees them remain at 485c/kg plus 5c/kg, while both ICMs and Dawn Ballyhaunis are quoting a base of 480c/kg plus 6c/kg.
As I have often said, those are only quotes and it is fair to say that few lambs are being bought at less than the €5/kg.
The IFA's James Murphy said that with lamb supplies remaining tight, factories were paying up to 515c/kg to 23.5kg in order to secure adequate numbers.
There is only a slight change to the quotes for the cull ewes. Despite a 5c/kg drop in Kildare, it is still top at 280c/kg, with Kepak Hacketstown not far behind at 275c/kg. Both ICM plants and Dawn Ballyhaunis are offering 270c/kg. Farmers willing to bargain are freely getting upwards of 300c/kg for well-fleshed ewes.