Farm Ireland

Sunday 18 February 2018

Cuts being felt across board as lamb quotes slashed by 30c/kg

There was disappointment among sheep farmers this week. Photo: Getty Images.
There was disappointment among sheep farmers this week. Photo: Getty Images.

Joe Healy

While it was a clever sideline cut that led to a heartbreaking one-point defeat for Tipperary in last Sunday's hurling league final, it is a cut of a different type and magnitude that has led to heartbreak and disappointment amongst sheep farmers this week.

All the categories have experienced this cut with quotes for lambs cut by up to 30c/kg, hoggets by 10c/kg and cull ewes by anything between 10-30c/kg.

Almost all the plants have come under the even money in one clear swoop with a base of 590c/kg being quoted for the spring lambs by Dawn Ballyhaunis, Kepak Athleague and both ICMs.

Kildare Chilling, like last week, were not quoting for the lambs when contacted yesterday morning. Their neighbours Moyvalley Meats were offering an all-in quote of 600c/kg. When the bonuses are included it leaves the two ICM plants top by virtue of their 10c/kg top-up for quality assured stock.

Both western plants are on a 6c/kg bonus for U grades. The base figures are identical to where they were at this time last year.

Farmers I spoke to yesterday morning were refusing to sell below 620c/kg and were quietly confident they would secure it for killing today. Supplies, while plentiful over the past week, seemed to have tightened significantly by yesterday and the colder and wetter weather this week will probably lead to further tightening of numbers.

The hoggets, despite being 30-40c/kg ahead of where they were on the first Tuesday in May 2013, are back 10c/kg on last week with all the major players offering a base of 550c/kg plus the various bonuses, which are similar to the bonuses on offer for the lambs. Kildare Chilling are continuing with their 5c/kg quality assurance (QA) payment on top of the 5c/kg for Us.

Commenting on the trade, the IFA's John Lynskey said that factories were having to pay 620-640c/kg including bonuses to get spring lambs and between 580-600c/kg for hoggets. He added that with supplies from the North tightening, factories were finding it difficult to get adequate supplies of hoggets.

Also Read

The higher end of the 10-30c/kg cut for the cull ewes comes from Kildare where their quote of 240c/kg is some 30c/kg less than where they were at this day last week.

Dawn have cut their quote by 20c/kg to 240c/kg and a 10c/kg drop from the ICMs and Kepak Athleague also brings the three of these to 240c/kg as well. I did hear reports of finishers negotiating prices this week of up to 270c/kg. The good news is that despite the fall, quotes are still some 50c/kg better than the very low levels they were at 12 months ago.

The new season SQQ live price for lambs in England and Wales was making the equivalent of around €6.51/kg deadweight by mid-week.

In France, the market returned to more normal levels following the Easter period.


The past week was somewhat tougher than recent weeks at the sheep marts around the country with many salesyards reporting the spring lambs to have dropped by €3-4/hd.

Yesterday's sales at both Athenry and Fermoy saw prices back by €5-10/hd and more on occasions. Down south, the lambs were generally selling for €75-90 with the €1/kg.

Cull ewes made from €58-117, with rams topping out at €180. Hogget prices for limited supplies ranged from €85 to €105. Lambs in Athenry moved for €65-80 over the weight in the main, with a top price of €126 paid for 46kg.

Hoggets made €60-85 over, with a pen of ewe hoggets weighing 55kg selling for €140.

Indo Farming