Farm Ireland

Thursday 22 February 2018

Big freeze forces lamb price hike

Joe Healy

While it was bad news for our X Factor hopeful, Mary Byrne, over the weekend, our sheep farmers were enjoying great news, with lamb prices increasing up to and beyond €5/kg.

OK, those prices have undoubtedly been aided by the drop in supplies as a result of the treacherous road conditions. Having said that, the strong trade throughout 2010 has ensured that lambs have continued to move which means that there is, or will be, no overflow for the remainder of the season in any case.

Moyvalley are clear leaders as far as the quotes are concerned today with their all-in figure of 480c/kg. Thereafter, the rest are closely bunched at a base of 460c/kg plus the bonuses. Kildare, I suppose, are slightly ahead by virtue of their added Quality Assurance bonus of 5c/kg. Dawn Ballyhaunis were not in a position to quote when contacted yesterday morning but word was that they were actively sourcing lambs with an equivalent price of in excess of the €5/kg being reported as attainable.

If you are selling at the moment, it is probably best to just ignore the quotes, because they are not even a starting point this week. At least one of the plants currently quoting 460c/kg has paid as high as 520c/kg up to 24kg this week. This is a whopping 60c/kg of a difference from the base quote, or €14.40/lamb.


The IFA's James Murphy said that with the very strong demand, allied to the tight supplies, it is difficult to gauge how far the market might go, but €5/kg is widely available this week.

Obviously, the bad weather has had an impact on the plants, but most killed on the normal amount of days last week, albeit smaller numbers. A bit more time and effort was necessary, but they got their supplies to the markets as well.

Quotes for cull ewes have also improved. Kildare Chilling have moved up to 280c/kg. Kepak Hacketstown are next at 270c/kg. The ICMs and Kepak Athleague are offering 260c/kg. As with the lambs, much more can be bargained for as mart prices for well-fleshed ewes have fetched prices of up to €140.

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Bord Bia attributes the improvement in prices to increasing demand in the run up to Christmas and consequentially tight supplies. Weekly sheep supplies for the week ending November 27 were 13,100hd lower on the same week in 2009 at 40,700hd.

In the UK, by the end of the week, prices reached the equivalent of 444c/kg dw including VAT.

In France, trade for limited volumes of Irish lamb were making up to 480c/kg as UK supplies also struggled to make the market in the bad weather.

Irish Independent