Farm Ireland

Saturday 24 February 2018

Dig in to combat quotes 20c/kg fall


Joe Healy

Sheep farmers selling heavy lambs over 50kg must be feeling as devastated as the Limerick hurlers were at the final whistle on Sunday. I say this because most of those lambs were probably fit for sale a few weeks ago when the quotes were up to €1/kg more than they are this week. OK, the lambs would have been lighter but bringing them to heavier weights for no extra money is not shrewd financial management.

At any rate, we are where we are and that is at a base quote of 520c/kg plus the bonus. This reflects a cut of 20c/kg from last Tuesday, which itself was 40-50c/kg lower than the previous week. Taken together, the fortnight has seen quotes dip by up to 70c/kg or close on €15/lamb. I appreciate that factory men will never be too optimistic for the short term future but none of them are painting a bright picture for the week ahead.

Nonetheless, IFA sheep chairman James Murphy said farmers were refusing to sell at the low quotes and were successfully bargaining for 535-540c/kg. He added that in Northern Ireland, 44kg lambs were making Stg£100, which translates to the equivalent of 545c/kg, so there is some room there for farmers to dig in on price and weight.

On actual quotes, Kildare Chilling comes out on top, by virtue of its added quality assurance bonus, with its quote of 520c/kg plus 6c/kg plus 5c/kg leaving it offering 531c/kg for suitable lambs.

The two ICM plants, Kepak plants and Dawn Ballyhaunis are on a similar base quote of 520c/kg plus 5-6c/kg bonus while Moyvalley is languishing at an all-in quote of 510c/kg.

Kildare Chilling is the only plant continuing to quote for the hoggets at a figure of 400c/kg plus 6c/kg plus 5c/kg.

Quotes for cull ewes vary from 250-270c/kg, with the ICM plants and Kildare at the top end. Kepak Hacketstown is next at 265c/kg, followed by Dawn Ballyhaunis at 260c/kg. Kepak Athleague is offering 250c/kg while Moyvalley is not quoting for the ewes.

The sheep trade eased as the last week progressed, according to Bord Bia, due to the increasing supplies of spring lamb supplies and sluggish market demand on the domestic and key export markets.

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Quotes for spring lambs were under some pressure, falling to €5.40/kg by the end of the week.

The trade for cast ewes was also affected by stronger lamb supplies, with quotes typically falling by around 10c/kg to around €2.50-2.60/kg.

In the UK, the spring lamb trade also weakened, with livemarket prices falling to the equivalent of €5.60/kg for new-season lambs.

In France, the market remained weak as domestic supplies and ongoing drought conditions forced farmers to market their lambs earlier and increased supplies from the UK and, to a lesser extent, Ireland. Towards the end of the week, prices for Irish grade 1 spring lamb were reported to be making up to €5.79/kg including VAT.

Meanwhile, a family day sheep shearing competition in aid of charity will be held at The Palm Tree, Ballyglunin, Co Galway, on Sunday.

This is an annual event and over the past few years the organisers have raised well in excess of €100,000 for very worthy causes and charities.

Indo Farming