Farmers are striking deals for up to 495c/kg as supplies tighten

At a 48-hour protest at the ABP Plant at Bandon Co Cork demanding better beef prices was Garry Lordan, aged 9, from Ballineen. Photo: Denis Boyle
At a 48-hour protest at the ABP Plant at Bandon Co Cork demanding better beef prices was Garry Lordan, aged 9, from Ballineen. Photo: Denis Boyle

Joe Healy

While Nidge failed to dodge the bullet in the final episode of Love/Hate, the sheep sector is managing so far to avoid any such turmoil.

Farmers in the West are getting it a little tougher. As two farmers said to me over the weekend, "we are not going to drive in to a factory with a load of lambs while our neighbours are protesting outside the gates in an efforts to secure a future for themselves".

They were alluding to Dawn Ballyhaunis and Kepak Athleague. Obviously, neither of these plants were offering a quote for today.

The plants not really affected included the ICMs, Kildare Chilling and Moyvalley. The latter were up 5c/kg to an all-in quote of 475c/kg while the status quo was maintained elsewhere.

This leaves them all on a base figure of 450c/kg with both ICM plants offering a 10c/kg bonus for Quality Assured lambs whereas Kildare are offering a 5c/kg QA bonus on top of their 5c/kg top-up for U grades.

As is the norm, actual prices being negotiated are as much as 35-45c/kg ahead of the quotes. Tight supplies appears to be the main driving force behind the success farmers are having at bargaining for higher prices. I had heard of 490c/kg being got in most places but the IFA sheep chairman, John Lynskey said that up to 495c/kg has been negotiated. He added that sellers need to make sure they are maximising the value of their lambs by bargaining hard on both price and carcase weight. A half kilo is equivalent to a gain or loss of up to €2.45/kg.

The trade for the cull ewes shows little or no change. The quotes from the ICMs and Kildare remain at 260c/kg with the lily-whites continuing to offer a 10c/kg bonus for QA ewes.

In any case, farmers with numbers are securing prices of between 280-300c/kg. Farmers are encouraged to ensure that ewes are adequately fleshed before presenting for slaughter. If not, then the mart is the best option as the trade for store ewes continues to be pretty keen with prices generally running at anything from €50-85/hd.

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The sheep trade continued to be underpinned by good demand coupled with some tightening in supplies according to An Bord Bia. Trade was steady across our key export markets.

Sheep Marts

It was a pretty stable week at the sheep marts and prices appeared to be holding at yesterdays sales also.

Having said that, the trade was probably a shade tougher in Fermoy and Kilkenny while smaller numbers in Athenry led to an improved trade despite a fear to the contrary based on the protests at Kepak and Dawn.

In any event, there was great interest in the fleshed lambs at Athenry with a top price of €120 paid for a pen weighing 49kg. This was €71 over the €/kg. Apart from this, the general run for the heavier lambs ranged from €57-68 with the weight. Ewe lambs also sold to €120. Lambs between 38-45kg were selling for €40-56 over. Cull ewes varied from €70-134 with a number of pens exceeding the €130 mark.

The heavy lamb in Kilkenny was back a few euros and selling for €54-58 over their weight in a price range of €105-115. Factory types were down €1-3/hd at €50-59 over and making from €91-108. Store prices ran from €68-82. Cull ewes made from €50-112.

The better lambs in Fermoy made from €48-58 with the €/kg. Lighter lambs moved at €40-53 over while cull ewes sold for €66-119.

At Carnew mart, the butcher and factory lambs ranged in price from €96-108 or €50-57 over their weight. Stores moved at €68-95 or €42-55 with the €/kg. Ewe lambs ranged from €85-117. This reflected €45-60 over the weight.

Black face ewes sold for €38-82 in Maam Cross. Hoggets were making up to €110 while the ewe lambs moved at €48-80. Cross bred lambs were making from €45-88. Blackface mountain wether lambs made from €20-48.

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