Hard bargaining pays off on lambs
There's a chance that we might see a photo-finish or two at the Galway Races this week but it is a very definite photo-finish as far as the lamb quotes are concerned today. The only change from last Tuesday is a 5c/kg improvement from Kepak Athleague.
This, however, only brings them up level with the rest of the processors to a base quote of 480c/kg plus the bonus. The only variations comes from the Kildare area where the 480c/kg from Moyvalley is an all-in figure, whereas Kildare Chilling continue to pay a 5c/kg quality assurance bonus on top of the 5c/kg top-up for U grade lambs.
While those quotes are 5-10c/kg ahead of last year's levels, the facts are that production costs increases in the meantime are not being covered by this difference. So it is little wonder that many farmers are refusing to sell at the quoted figures and are quite often successfully bargaining for prices well above the quotes, in some cases 15-20c/kg over.
At a Longford/Westmeath producer group walk last week, Kepak's Bertie Mannion advised farmers to keep a good eye on weights and to move lambs when fit. He also urged farmers to handle lambs properly in order to avoid bruising, with the tail and under the throat area much better than grabbing the wool along the back or around the back quarters.
Farmers need also to bargain hard on weights as there is currently up to a kilo of a difference between the weights that producers are getting paid for. This is equivalent to almost €5/lamb. Commenting on the trade, IFA's James Murphy said that with factories actively ringing around and competing with each other for lambs, it should be clear to farmers that the trade and the markets were very strong at the moment.
He added that the lively mart trade, helped by demand for Ramadam, was another positive indicator and that good sellers were negotiating prices of between 500c/kg and 505c/kg to 21.5kg this week.
Cull ewe quotes remain at 230c/kg but again, as with the lambs, factories are willing to pay well in excess of this. It is up to the farmer to get it as it can be worth up to €10/ewe.