Factories: Lamb quotes hold at a €5.50/kg base


Last Thursday's sale saw a good entry of sheep at Ballymote mart. Photo: Brian Farrell
Last Thursday's sale saw a good entry of sheep at Ballymote mart. Photo: Brian Farrell
Factory quotes in general are no worse than they were eight days ago. Getty Images
Martin Coughlan

Martin Coughlan

It is hard to judge whether last week's farmer meetings with various sheep processors around the country has yielded anything tangible on prices for producers.

The best that can be said is that factory quotes in general are no worse than they were eight days ago.

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But there is some downward pressure, with Kildare Chilling dropping their quote for lamb by 5c/kg to €5.50/kg plus bonuses.

With that reduction all the major processors are this week operating off the same start line for spring lamb, €5.50/kg.


Are the supplies out there? That is the question. The answer for the moment appears to be yes.

However, I took heart from a conversation I had over the weekend with Ivan Moffett of Manorhamilton Mart who noted an improvement in his prices last week, partly he believes because numbers are ever so slowly starting to ease.

"Agents are fit to get stock killed and that's an improvement on two weeks ago," he said.

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Yesterday there seemed to some solid evidence that numbers are starting to tighten as sales in both Raphoe and New Ross reported relatively small numbers presenting.

Allowing for issues around the new EID system and lads holding back sheep until they have seen the system in operation, Jim Bushe of New Ross told me he has a "sneaking suspicion" that numbers could tighten.

For the present, though, factories are keeping their cards very close to their chest, with no positive movement on either springs, hogget or cull ewes.

Only Dawn and the two ICM plants were willing to quote yesterday for hogget, with Dawn on €4.00/kg plus 10c/kg bonus. The two ICMs were at €4.25/kg plus 10c/kg.

Quotes for cull ewes on our price table continue to operate between €2.50-2.70/kg, with Kildare the top payer at €2.70/kg plus 10c/kg quality bonus.

The only consolation seems to be that if, as Jim Bushe predicts, numbers could be about to tighten, we might be at the bottom of the current price cycle.

Thomas Potterton of Delvin Mart said that despite the current malaise with the sheep, some of his midland clients told him that they are consoling themselves by averaging the prices they took earlier in the year with what is currently on offer in the marts and factories.

After a flurry of activity from the farm organisations over the last month in relation to prices, with protests and meetings with factories, the sheep farming community waits to see if there is any improvement.

In the meantime I have a few questions of my own.

Firstly, do we have an actual functioning plan for the Irish sheep sector?

If we do, does it include a section on marketing?

Secondly, is the reality that while farmers strive to reach all the standards and goals set by the Department and the industry, those in charge of delivering market sustainability just ride the tide of seasonal supermarket sentiment to sheep meat.



Ivan Moffett reported a big sale of sheep with lambs improved. The majority of lambs from 40-47kg averaged €110-115/hd, with the top call of the day seeing a batch at 45kg making €120/hd. Trade for hoggets, however, was “very difficult” with 48-49kg not getting beyond €90/hd. Taking an overview Ivan noted that: “Agents are fit to get stock killed and that’s an improvement on two weeks ago.” He also expects the store trade to begin in earnest from the middle of this month.


Thomas Potterton also noted an improved tone to his sheep trade. “Numbers were smaller but trade was better.” Thomas told me. 40-45kg lambs sold from €75-105/hd, with 45-50kg making from €80-110/hd. Heavier lots saw prices range from 58kg at €86/hd to €135/hd for 73kg. Thomas reckoned that some sellers are averaging the better prices they got earlier in the year against their poorer returns at present. Overall, though, with so much early year promise, Thomas reckons many are very seriously disappointed with how the market has developed.


There was a complete clearance here with spring lambs selling from €106-115/hd. Heavy hoggets made from €90-100/hd, with stores selling for €65-80. Heavy cull ewes made €110-126/hd, while feeder types ranged from €70-107/hd. Ewes with lambs at foot sold for €150-200/hd.


Ann Harkin reported that trade was up and down depending on quality. There was no end of confusion in relation to the new sheep identification scheme. “Farmers were very confused with this new double barrel id code system. We had lads reading them upside down, every way.” Away from the paper work prices for 33-37kg lambs ranged from €80-90/hd, with 37-40kg seeing €90-100/hd. 40-46kg lambs sold for €100-112/hd, with 46-52kg making €110-118/hd. Cull ewes made €65-130/hd.


Lambs were slightly easier with reports suggesting a decline in the region of €3/hd. Springs sold in general for €110-115/hd, with a batch at 52kg seeing the top call of €122/hd.


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