Egyptian beef deal in the pipeline as price pressures see finishers change tack

Weanling prices up by €50-70/hd while lamb takes a dip

Louise Hogan

An agreement by Egypt to accept live imports from Ireland for fattening stock is expected to be confirmed by officials this week

The news comes as increasing numbers of finishers are reportedly opting to invest in store lambs rather than weanlings this year due to the strong mart trade for quality stock.

Factory quotes for lambs dropped by 25c/kg, shaving around €6/head off over the week as the spring numbers began to build. The fall was also mirrored across the water in Britain, where prices were back €8/hd.

Mike Kissane of Iveragh Mart in south Kerry maintained that finishers in the midlands and east are opting for store lambs rather than expensive weanlings. "If you had €10,000 to spend, would you rather have 10 weanlings or 150 store lambs?" he asked.

Mr Kissane claimed there was massive demand for lowland store lambs from midlands buyers. He said up to 800 a week were being weighed and delivered to buyers, primarily in Westmeath, Kildare and Offaly.

Good-quality stores up to 30-35kgs are making €2.10/kg or around €70-75/hd. The bulk of these are Texel, Charollais or Suffolk lambs. Crossbred lambs are making around €2/kg.

Declan Fennell
Declan Fennell

Mr Kissane attributed the stronger demand from midlands buyers to a degree of caution among farmers regarding the cattle trade.

He said prices for autumn-born weanlings were up €50-70/hd at two special sales in Iveragh Mart in July.

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Weanlings are still being bought for the Turkish live export market, with purchasers also active for shipments to Libya.

Live exporters of sheep were also reported to be active in some of the marts.


The Eid Muslim religious festival falls at the start of September, with shipping normally starting a month in advance.

Bord Bia's Declan Fennell said live exports to date were modest at 2,400 head. However, there were 48,000 exported last year, with 31,000 in the weeks before the Eid festival.

"The big factor will be how we are competitively against other live exporters," he said.

Traditionally the biggest markets for live exports have been France, Belgium, Netherlands and Germany.

The ICSA's John Brooks said he believes the market is "under-utilised" and a co-ordinated plan was needed by all elements of the industry to capitalise on it.

He pointed out he has received calls seeking ram lambs that have not had their tails docked for live export. However, these are not available.

The IFA's John Lynskey said the mart trade for lambs remains strong, with active store buying and some live export buying.

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