Farm Ireland

Wednesday 17 January 2018

Halt to cuts comes as welcome relief

Joe Healy

Sport and the sheep trade may not have a lot in common, but the one thing it does share is the element of unpredictability.

Last Sunday's second All-Ireland draw in as many years is matched by the factories' lamb quotes for this week, which are more or less the same as last week.

All bar one plant were on a base of 450c/kg seven days ago. It is a different plant that is the odd one out today, but all of the rest are still on the 450c/kg base.

The 'draw' from a sheep farmer's point of view will fall a long way short of generating the €2.75m for the industry that Domhnall O Donovan's shot in desperation will do for the GAA. But it is still welcome to see the continuous weekly reductions to the quotes over the past 6-7 weeks being halted.

The odd one out referred to above is Kepak Athleague. That might be a blessing since word had it that they were trying to pull the quote downwards.

In the absence of a quote from them I won't speculate. The two 5c/kg bonuses from Kildare Chilling for quality assured lambs and U grades keeps them at the top of the pile. The ICMs and Dawn Ballyhaunis are only paying the one bonus for the U grades. Kepak Hacketstown's quote was for yesterday only as they are not killing again until Thursday. The 450c/kg on offer from Moyvalley is an all-in figure. One farmer who contacted me over the weekend was disappointed at what he felt was a large number of Northern Irish lambs being killed in the factories and he said that the processors need to prioritise lambs produced on farms in the South.

Commenting on the trade, the IFA's James Murphy said that our factories must use the upcoming Muslim festival to get prices back up to viable levels and to restore confidence in the sector. He added that many farmers are refusing to sell below 460c/kg and at weights of up to 22kg.

Kildare also tops the cull ewe table by remaining on a quote of 190c/kg. Kepak Hacketstown are offering 185c/kg with 180c/kg quoted by the ICMs and Dawn. Farmers with numbers are securing prices of up to and over €2/kg.

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Bord Bia said that the sheep trade eased slightly over the past week due to increasing supplies.

To date this year, sheep supplies at meat export plants remain almost 12pc or around 170,000 head higher at 1.65m head.

Trade across Britain weakened throughout the week on the back of further increases in supplies. By the weekend, new season lamb at live markets there were making around €4.42/kg


Breeding ewe and hogget prices were back slightly over the past week, with €110-140 buying most of the hoggets and €90-125 securing the majority of the young ewes.

Culls generally ranged from €50 to €90. Demand was relatively strong for ewe lambs fit for breeding, with farmers willing to pay over the €100 mark for them.

As for the rest, well Fermoy yesterday was probably the pick of the marts for the finished lambs. A tops of €115 for 54kg or €61 over the weight was the pick of the week. A number of heavy pens made from €47-57 with their weight. Lighter lots of 34-44kg sold for €33-45 over the weight.

In Athenry, the fleshed lambs were selling for €42-53 over the €1/kg. They are holding the annual sale of Pedigree Galway Sheep next Monday. A steady trade was reported from Kilkenny. The 40-50kg lambs were making from €36-49 with their weight in a price-range of €77-98, while the heavier lots made €40-55 over and sold at €90-109/hd.

Carnew Mart had a big sale, with 4,200 sheep on offer. Prices were easier by €2/hd. Butcher and factory lots were selling for prices of €84-103. Stores ranged from €55 to €81. Ewe lambs sold for €75-108. Fat cull ewes topped out at €92, while feeders sold back to €35.

In the breeding section, the ewes varied from €80-140, with the rams selling for €120-440.

A good selection of buyers from Northern Ireland and the midlands ensured a brisk trade throughout for the 2,000 sheep at Ballinrobe Mart. The lower end price for the Suffolk hoggets ranged from €105 to €120, with the better lots reaching a high of €172. Lambs made €80-120.

At the West of Ireland Suffolk Sheep Breeders Club Euro Star Ram Lamb Show and Sale the average price was €561, with a top price of €790. The second mule sale takes place on Saturday next September 14.

Dowra Mart had 3,900 sheep on Saturday last. Trade was steady on the day with some of the lesser quality sheep harder sold. The best of the ewe lambs for breeding made €80-105 each, while the lighter ewe lambs sold for €60-80. Hogget ewes were selling from €100 to €140, with some of the poorer quality pens making €80-100. Good store lambs made €65-80, with the mountain stores making €40-60 in the main.

Baltinglass Mart had 2,200 sheep on offer. Store lambs were improved by €1-3/hd, selling for prices of €50-80. Fat lambs were steady, with the 45-55kg lambs making from €85 to €105.

Irish Independent