Mart trade still strong for lambs and ewes despite factory price cuts

Pictured at Carnew mart, auctioneer David Quinn.
Pictured at Carnew mart, auctioneer David Quinn.
Declan O'Brien

Declan O'Brien

A brisk trade is reported in the marts for store lambs and breeding ewes despite the current downturn in factory quotes.

Big numbers of buyers and a small turnout of stock in the marts combined to ensure some lively bidding at ringside.

David Quinn of Carnew Mart claimed he could have sold three times the number of stores and breeding stock on offer at the Wicklow sales centre.

Ewe hoggets generally sold for €140-160/hd, with two-, three- and four-year-old ewes making from €120 to €140/hd.

There was "very good bite" in the store lamb trade, with well presented lots making €2.30-2.40/kg. Plainer stock made €2/kg.

Cull ewe quotes have held up well in the factories, and the mart trade has been equally steady, with strong wholesaler demand underpinning the market.

Fat ewes in Carnew sold for €115-140/hd, while ewes for further feeding generally made from €70 to €100/hd.

It was a similar story in Dowra Mart in west Cavan. Terry McGovern said there was "a pile of men" around for store lambs and some outstanding prices were paid.

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While the bulk of the stores sold for €75-85/hd, a high of €92.50 was given for one batch.

Mr McGovern said the majority of the buyers for the stores were from the midlands.

Good demand for breeding stock at Dowra saw ewe hoggets make €112-134/hd, while cull ewes sold from €90 to €117/hd for fats. A base of €60/hd was paid for feeding ewes.

Fat lambs were unchanged at €100/hd to €103/hd for those in the 32-36kg weight range.

It comes as the UK's main farming organisation warned that a hard Brexit would be "absolutely disastrous" for the sector.

Minette Batters, president of the National Farmers Union, said if the UK cannot sell lamb to the continent, due to tariffs it could cause a huge surplus and lead to the mass slaughter of British sheep.

France currently buys 40pc of the UK's sheep supply. The UK is the second largest supplier of lamb in the world, although it imports 70,000t of lamb from New Zealand annually.

Ms Batters said if the UK can't sell its lamb into the European market that puts them into oversupply.

"That means that you will have many farmers going out of business and, indeed, you would have to look at slaughtering quite a large percentage of the national sheep flock. Agriculture is part of the largest manufacturing sector, food and drink, which is worth more than the car industry and the aerospace industry put together."

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