Factory agents get busy as sheepmen shun lower quotes


Rodney McLoughlin, Clonmany, Co Donegal, with the male champion at the Irish Texel Society show last weekend in Blessington. By All- Ireland champion, Strathbogie Uno, out of a home bred ewe, the prize-winner sold for 6,500gns.
Rodney McLoughlin, Clonmany, Co Donegal, with the male champion at the Irish Texel Society show last weekend in Blessington. By All- Ireland champion, Strathbogie Uno, out of a home bred ewe, the prize-winner sold for 6,500gns.

Joe Healy

While Rory McIlroy was making it three-in-a-row at Valhalla, it was also three-in-a-row in the lamb trade as quotes dropped for the third week running.

Kildare Chilling dropped their base by 10c/kg to join most of the rest on 440c/kg. They continue to offer a 5c/kg bonus for Quality Assured lambs as well the 5c/kg top-up for U grades. If there is a positive, it is that all plants are offering a quote with the two ICM plants back in the saddle and quoting a base of 440c/kg plus the 10c/kg for QA stock.

Kepak Athleague and Dawn Ballyhaunis are also offering the 440c/kg base with Kepak's 6c/kg bonus being paid on QA lambs while Dawn's top up is paid on the U grades. Moyvalley are on an all-in quote of 450c/kg.

With farmers refusing to sell at the lower quotes, factories are finding it difficult to secure adequate supplies. Hard sellers are bargaining successfully to negotiate prices of between 460-465c/kg all in.

Agents were extremely active over the week-end sourcing stock with some farmers achieving good results from agents anxious to tie down deals.

In the main the plants are paying to 21.5kg while up to 22kg is also being secured. This extra half kg is crucial and worth up to €2.30/lamb or 10c/kg.

Some factory sources remarked that lambs were not killing out particularly well with a lot of lambs failing to hit the 45pc mark. At a range of 40-45pckill out, farmers would need their lambs to weigh between 48-50kg. Even at this, a 50kg lamb with a relatively poor kill out of say 40pc would only come into a carcase of 20kg.

A poor kill out is common enough at this time of the year as grass quality on many farms reduces if not topped and managed well. Despite the extra cost, it could pay to feed some meal to get a quicker and better finish. With margins tight it is imperative that lamb values are maximized.

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Commenting on the trade, the IFA's spokesman John Lynskey said that with British prices over €4.80/kg, lamb prices here should remain steady. The tight supply means the plants are having to pay up to 20c/kg over the quotes with up to €4.65 paid to 22kg.

The cull ewe trade appears to be firm with all the factories offering a quote of 240c/kg.

An Bord Bia described the sheep trade as being under pressure. The export trade remain slow.

Average lamb prices decreased with base quotes for spring lamb generally around €4.40/kg. Cull ewe prices are averaging €2.40/kg. Cumulative supplies are around 2% higher than 2013 figures standing at around 1.4 million head.

In Britain, the trade was down. The SQQ live price for new season lambs in England and Wales was around 4.77/kg dw towards the end of the week.


In France, demand remains slow because of poor weather and the closure of many restaurants for domestic holidays. The Irish Grade 1 spring lamb price was around €5.04/kg (inclusive of VAT) during the week.

The breeding and pedigree sales season is in full swing, but when you move beyond the prize-winners and those bought by fellow pedigree breeders, the majority of the commercial rams seem to be making between €350-600 and maybe a little more on occasion.

Numbers of breeding stock are increasing at all the regular sales around the country with reports suggesting quite lively interest especially in the younger and better quality lots. Ewe hoggets are generally selling for €130-190/hd with the top lots making over €200/hd.

The older ewes are selling for €90-150 in the main depending on number of crops, breed and quality. Most of the nice ewe lambs between 45-53kg are making from €100-120. In Fermoy yesterday the best price for the ewe lambs was €120 for 49kg. Wether lambs hit a high of €115 for 53kg or €62 over the weight. A range of €45-55 with the €/kg was the average for the majority of the fit lambs while stores made from €65-80.

Store lambs under 40kg in Ballymote made from €30- 42 over their weight. Lambs between 45-50kg made from €40-51 over. Heavier lots sold for up to €50 with the €/kg.

There was a turnout of 2,750 sheep on offer at Carnew mart had increased demand for ewe lambs while the butcher and factory lots remained steady but the demand for ram lambs was sluggish. The lambs fit for slaughter were making from €85-102/hd. Stores ranged from €65-82. Ewe lambs sold in a price range of €75-112.

Breeding ewes were a strong trade and varied from €125-170 while prices for the cull ewes ran from €47-122.

Indo Farming

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