Farm Ireland

Tuesday 12 December 2017

Lamb prices down as demand drops

Joe Healy

Just when I thought it would be impossible to come across as poor a performance as the Galway hurlers last Sunday, I find it matched by the lamb quotes from the factories.

The table, right, tells it all. It shows a drop of 20-40c/kg in quotes since this day last week. They have now fallen below the 500c/kg mark, with all plants now on a base of 470-480c/kg.

Kildare Chilling, despite a 20c/kg fall, is still on top at 480c/kg plus the two 5c/kg bonuses for quality assured and U grade lambs.

Both western plants are next on a base quote of 475c/kg plus the bonus. A 30c/kg drop leaves Kepak Hacketstown (yesterday only) and the two ICM plants on a figure of 470c/kg plus the bonus.

The biggest cut in quotes is from Moyvalley, which dropped by a massive 40c/kg to an all-in quote of 470c/kg for today. The only crumb of good news is that farmers are generally bargaining for and securing prices of 480-500c/kg this week.

IFA sheep committee chairman James Murphy said strong demand for the Muslim festival at the end of Ramadan, and weaning should help to add a much needed boost the trade.

He said prices had stabilised, with strong sellers getting €4.95-5.00/kg. The British trade has also stabilised, with live prices back up €4.50-6.00/hd in some auction marts last week.

He maintained that with the change in the weather and improved grass growth, store buyers were beginning to emerge and create competition for lighter lambs.

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On the cull ewe trade, he said there was real potential for improvement. The British trade is very strong, with cull ewes making the equivalent of €80/hd up to a maximum of €115 per head. Quotes for cull ewes are 200c/kg in the ICM plants, Dawn Ballyhaunis and Kildare Chilling, while Kepak Athleague is offering 190c/kg.

Bord Bia reported an easing of the lamb trade last week as numbers being marketed continued to strengthen. Trade was also affected by the weather conditions across some of our key export markets.

Quotes for lamb were generally €4.80-5.00/kg, with more available for quality assured lamb. Prices paid for cull ewes were €1.80-2.00/kg. To date this year, sheep supplies are 169,500 head up on last year.

Trade across the UK improved slightly throughout the week, despite some increase in domestic supplies combined with market demand remaining weak in France. By the weekend, new season lambs at live markets across England and Wales were selling for the equivalent of €4.89/kg dw.


Ewe hoggets for breeding sold for over €158/hd at marts in the past week, while older breeding ewes sold for €70-120/hd. Lambs fit for slaughter made €100-120 and lighter lambs sold for €60-90/hd.

Yesterday's sale at Fermoy Mart saw well-fleshed lambs over 50kg sell for €50-60 over the weight. The 40-50kg types made €40-50 over. In Athenry, heavier lambs sold for €47-58 with the €/kg in the main.

A few top quality pens made up to €64-65 over, with a pen of 46kg lambs selling for €110/hd and a pen of 47kg lambs making up to €112.

Butcher lambs sold for €50-61 with the €/kg, at €100-112/hd in Kilkenny. Factory types sold for prices of €80-107 or €37-58 over.

Trade was slightly tougher in Tullow last week, where butcher and factory lambs sold for €2.20-2.50/kg and stores made €2.00-2.40/kg. Cull ewes sold for €35-88/hd. In the breeding section, hoggets topped out at €158 but €130-145 bought the majority of them. The Tullow Sheep Breeders 26th Annual Show and Sale will take place on August 7.

Carnew Mart had smaller numbers of sheep on offer last week, with 2,200 animals. It reported a strong trade, with prices fully maintained. Butcher and factory lambs sold for €92-120. The store trade was brisk, with more farmer customers around the ring. They paid €40-85/hd or €25-42 over the weight.

Prices for heavy lambs at Baltinglass Mart fell by €3-4/hd but stronger demand for store lambs kept prices steady.

The Baltinglass Ewe Breeders 29th Annual Show and Sale takes place next Saturday, August 3.

Lamb prices were similar to the previous week at Dowra Mart on Saturday, with fat lambs making €90-107.

Mountbellew had a smaller than usual entry of lambs and as a result prices were slightly easier. Well-fleshed lambs sold for €90-100. Lighter lots sold for €68-84/hd. Older breeding ewes sold for up to €135.

Blackface ewes with lambs at foot sold for €52-75 over in Maam Cross. Cull ewes averaged around €50/hd.

Mayo/Sligo Mart enjoyed a good trade for fat and store lambs, with the fleshy types selling for €100-113 and the lighter lots making €60-95/hd.

Irish Independent