Lamb trade: Bank holiday puts pressure on spring lamb prices
THE Bank Holiday feeling may have enticed many to a whirl with the family on the hurdy-gurdies at Salthill or Tramore, but the reality on a lot of sheep farms was more work, less play.
Many were more focused on drawing spring lamb and hoggets than the joys of the bumpers.
The Bank Holiday weekend, also serves as a reminder of exactly how major business decisions are sometimes timed on sheep and other farms around the country. The issue is manpower or “help”.
Farming and the handling of stock sheep in particular requires a lot of help, and with the “lads” — that term in this context also covers the girls — home from college or from school there was extra help about.
That extra help was mobilised on a lot of sheep farms not only yesterday but over the weekend and the expectation among the factory men is that with the weather so good and lambs thriving a serious number of “first draft” spring lambs will begin to appear this week along with the tailend of the hoggets in western areas.
In anticipation of this factory bosses have in some cases adjusted their quotes downwards. Others while holding at last week’s levels were cautious not to appear overly optimistic on price prospects.
“It’s the same old ding dong” says ICSA sheep chairman John Brooks. “It’s a Bank Holiday weekend and the factories are trying to beat each other in a race to the bottom of the barrel on price in the hope of creating a small panic. The reality is that I was quoted €5.15 for hogget, €6.00 for spring lamb and €3.00 for ewes.”
This is good to hear because official quotes are at best only where they were last week with a lot of plants tendering lower. Among the quotes that have remained unchanged is the one from Kildare Chilling for spring lamb at €590+10c/kg bonus, with Dawn Ballyhaunis’s quote for cull ewes at €2.70/kg another unchanged quote from last week. Kepak Athleague drop back 10c/kg from €6.00+5c/kg bonus on spring lamb to €5.90+5c/kg bonus while both of the ICM plants are on €5.70+10c bonus, which leaves Dawn Ballyhaunis tailing the field at €5.70/kg for the springs.