Lamb prices on the rise as supplies tighten out West


Martin Coughlan

Martin Coughlan

Last week the question was, were supplies beginning to tighten? And if they were, how long would it take for factory bosses to up the ante?

The answer to the first question is a very definite yes; with the answer to the second being not long at all.

Factory quotes for lamb were up between 5-15c/kg yesterday morning, with quotes for cull ewes 5-20c/kg stronger.

The message is clear: numbers have eased significantly, especially in the west, resulting in much-needed competition on the ground.

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That said yesterday's quotes were still as much as 30c/kg behind where they were this week last year when Kepak Athleague led the table for lamb on €4.70+5c/kg quality assurance.

Yesterday that top position was held by Kildare Chilling whose quote of €4.60+10c/kg QA was up 15c/kg on last week.

Dawn Ballyhaunis moved into second place as they to raised their quote for lamb by 15c/kg to €4.50+10c/kg QA.

Kepak Athleague is next after adding 10c/kg to their lamb quote and settling on €4.40+15c/kg QA.

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The ICM group, the country's largest processor of sheep, moved up just 5c/kg to €4.40+10c/kg QA. And that's where the game stood yesterday. The question is, will those increases be enough to flush out adequate supplies or will a shake more have to be given as the week moves on?

Sean McNamara of ICSA believes more will come. "Factories are very tight for lamb," he told me. "I can see more coming if farmers hold tough."

IFA's Sean Dennehy concurred.

"Supplies have tightened significantly and prices have also lifted in the UK. Coupled with increased Christmas demand, factories are paying €4.70 to €4.75/kg"

Also shortening in supply are cull ewes, with factories yesterday upping their quotes by 5-20c/kg.

This left the division between the top and bottom payers at 15c/kg. Top of the table is Kildare whose quote of €2.50+10c/kg quality assurance is up 10c/kg on last week. Dawn and Kepak are also on €2.50/kg having added 20c/kg to their offering from last week.

The two ICM plants while up 5c/kg at €2.35/kg appeared a little off the pace yesterday. So, where does this leave us?

While things are definitely moving in the right direction, we are still behind where we were this time last year.

It took until the end of November last year before actual prices paid hit up around the €5/kg mark.

The mart trade last week also saw movement with prices across most categories reported to be up €2-5/hd.




Improved demand for both butcher and factory lots saw prices here improve by €2-3/hd, while more farmer activity underpinned the store trade. Butcher and factory lambs sold from €92-104/hd, while on the store side those over 35kgs averaged €75-86. Cull ewes made from €48-128/hd, while ewe lambs made from €85/hd to €118/hd.


Heavy lambs here were reported as being up €2/hd at prices from €98-104/hd. Factory lambs sold from €87-98/hd, with forward stores selling between €77-87/hd. Lighter stores made from €67-81/hd. Heavy cast ewes made €83-113/hd, with lighter lots ranging from €55/hd to €80/hd.

Ballinrobe Another big sheep sale with prices steady to improved as a resurgence in factory prices feeds back through the system. Store lambs sold from €54-85/hd, while factory lamb averaged €63-105/hd. Ewe lambs sold from €100-115/hd, with fat ewes making €65-106/hd.


A good entry of sheep saw strong demand for both lambs and cast ewes. Ewe lambs saw a top call of €105/hd, while 53.8kgs at €100/hd was the top price among those finished lambs. Other prices of note in the finished section included 55.8kgs also at €100/hd and 47.8kgs at €95/hd. Cast ewes sold from €73.50-109/hd.


There was also good numbers here, but as elsewhere demand was keen with cast ewes an improved trade and lambs up by €1-2/hd.

Looking in detail heavy lambs sold from €97-101/hd, with factory types making from €90-97/hd. Store lambs were also in demand with prices solid between €60-88/hd. Fat ewes sold from €100-127/hd, while those with interest in feeding types saw prices average an impressive €68-98/hd.


Trade was solid, especially for stores and good ewe lambs. Sample prices among the lambs saw nine 36.5kg wether lambs make €105/hd, twelve 53.4kg ram lambs made €105/hd, while twelve 40.1 ewe lambs sold for €88/hd. Stag ewes went on well and generally made €50-104/hd.

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