Farm Ireland

Wednesday 21 February 2018

Lamb price drop halted - for now

Joe Healy and Caitriona Murphy

Let us be grateful for little mercies. After four weeks of continuous decline in lamb quotes, there is some sort of stability this week. Quotes, by and large, are at the same level as last week. Lamb producers needed to see a return to stability as their confidence was coming under intense pressure.

The ICM plants, the Kepak plants and Dawn Ballyhaunis are on a base quote of 560c/kg plus the bonus. However, both Kildare Chilling and Moyvalley have dropped their quotes by 10c/kg. This leaves Kildare Chilling on 550c/kg plus 6c/kg on top of the 5c/kg for quality assured lambs. Moyvalley is quoting an all-in figure of 550c/kg.

The hoggets are still coming out in force and while some of them are overweight, there are quite an amount of in-spec types being offered. Farmers with this type can afford to bargain hard and where this is done, I have heard of prices of up to 485c/kg.

Hogget quotes range from 450-480c/kg. While Moyvalley is at the lower end on the lamb quotes, it is the clear leader for hogget quotes, at 480c/kg.

Both Kepak plants are quoting a base of 460/kg plus 5c/kg, while the ICM plants are offering 450c/kg plus 6c/kg bonus.

Speaking after a series of meetings with sheep factory personnel last week, IFA sheep chairman James Murphy said he had made it clear that the severe price cuts of the past fortnight had undermined the market, damaged farm incomes and eroded confidence.

Mr Murphy said the changeover from hoggets to spring lamb was a flash point every year and this had to be addressed. He described it as totally unacceptable that early lamb producers with top quality product suffered excessive price cuts during this period.

He pointed out that prices on the French and British markets had improved this week by the equivalent of 20c/kg and, as a result, Irish prices had stabilised and improved. Factories were paying €5.80/kg for spring lambs, with top prices of €5.90 including bonuses, he added.

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As market conditions continue to improve in France, Mr Murphy said farmers would be watching the factories closely in expectation of those improvements being passed on to them.

The ICM plants and Kepak Hacketstown are quoting the top cull ewe price of 280c/kg. Kepak Athleague and Dawn Ballyhaunis are quoting 270c/kg, but a 30c/kg cut by Kildare Chilling puts it at the bottom on 250c/kg.

Farmers with ewes and hoggets for sale would probably be better off to try and clear the hoggets first as the ewes are a better bet to at least hold their value in the longer term.

Indo Farming