Farm Ireland

Tuesday 20 March 2018

Factories willing to pay well above base quotes to close deals

A flock of Mayo Blackface sheep in the shadow of Croagh Patrick during last week's cold snap. Photo: Conor McKeown
A flock of Mayo Blackface sheep in the shadow of Croagh Patrick during last week's cold snap. Photo: Conor McKeown

Joe Healy

Brendan Behan once said that "he was a drinker with a writing problem". Sheep producers have often had very good reason to say that "they are farmers with an income and profit problem".

Thankfully however, the positivity of 2014 is continuing to date this year. Demand is strong and factories are keen for supplies and willing to pay well above the base quotes if it means closing the deal.

As you will see from the table there is little or no change to the base quotes apart from Moyvalley meats where a 10c/kg rise moves them up to an all-in quote of €5.40/kg. The rest remain on €5.20/kg plus the bonuses.

The two ICM plants are offering a 10c/kg quality assurance top-up while Kildare are offering 5c/kg for U grades and a further 5c/kg for QA lambs.

The 6c/kg bonus from Kepak is also for QA stock. Dawn Ballyhaunis have become extremely media-shy and have only quoted once since last October.

Farmers selling are quite easily securing prices above €5.50 with factories also proving to be flexible on weights.

Some sellers have got paid to 24kg. Do your own maths and know your lambs to help you decide on how a higher price/kg to 23 kg might fare against a slightly lower price to 24kg. Each kg is worth at least €5.50 whereas you would need an extra 23-24c/kg on price to make up this figure. The 24kg though appears to be as good as it gets leaving you at a gross price of €132-133.

If you think your lambs are heavier and worth more than this, then the mart is a strong alternative with butcher demand remaining very strong. There are rumours of up to €5.60 being negotiated at one or two plants, but as yet this price is definitely not widespread.

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IFA National Sheep Committee Chairman John Lynskey said the factories are paying €5.50-5.55/kg to get lambs. He said the trade has rebounded in the UK over the past week with the live weight SQQ increasing to over £1.95/kg by the end of the week. This is equivalent to €5.80/kg. He said the UK factories are paying £4.16/kg deadweight, according to EBLEX, equivalent to €5.82/kg including VAT.

There is no change to the cull ewe quotes either. Kildare and both ICMs are still offering 320c/kg with the lily-white plant paying an extra 10c/kg for QA ewes. Kepak remain on 310c/kg. Actual prices being bargained for can vary between 340-350c/kg.

Sheep Marts

The trade at the sheep marts over the past week continued strongly and this appeared to be the case at yesterdays sales in Fermoy, Kilkenny and Athenry. The heavy lambs in Kilkenny made from €68-80 with the €/kg in a price range of €122-135. Factory types sold at prices ranging from €103-115 reflecting €61-67 over the weight. Cull ewes made from €50-165.

Tthe heavier lambs in Athenry were moving at €67-79 over the weight. Lambs between 40-47kg made from €53-73 over. Lighter lots were selling for €35-50 over the €.kg. In-lamb ewes were scarce and made from €180-184 while cull ewes varied from €65-146. Fleshed lambs in Fermoy were making from €65-79 with their weight. Lighter types sold for €50-66 over. Some plainer lots made from €40-50 over.

Sheep numbers were increased at Dowra Mart last Saturday and trade was very strong for all categories. Factory lambs made from €100-132 each. Short keep stores were making from €80-100 while lighter types made from €60-80/hd. Fleshed cull ewes were selling for €90-150. Ewes for further grazing made from €55-90. Ewes with twin lambs at foot ranged from €180 to €250. Ewes with singles made from €100-170. The better type in-lamb ewes varied from €150-200. Older lots were making from €80-150.

The 685 sheep on offer in New Ross met with a very lively trade. Butcher and factory lambs sold for €121-135/hd or €69-84 over €/kg. Stores made from €95-116 or €63-77 over. A very strong trade for cull ewes resulted in the heavier lots selling from €136-171. Lighter ewes sold for €84-125.

Lambs were a similar trade to the previous week at Mountbellew Mart. The best pen of wether lambs weighed 54kg and sold for €128 or €74 with their weight. The top ewe lambs weighed 50kg and made €130 or €80 over.

Indo Farming