Farm Ireland

Wednesday 13 December 2017

Lamb prices take a savage tumble

If you want good news, you had better turn to the sports pages because while European and World titles and records were being amassed by the Irish over the weekend, our sheep producers were being hit with unwanted records.

We would have to go back quite a bit to get a seven-day period where lamb quotes dropped by 60c/kg or €12/lamb.

A month ago the quotes were €1/kg more than today at €6/kg. Unfortunately, this is the reality for farmers, with every plant showing a drop of 50-60c/kg.

Increased supplies and extremely sluggish markets are being blamed. However, the IFA is inclined to apportion at least some of the blame towards the factories and accused them of leading the prices downwards.

The IFA's James Murphy said that this will damage farmer confidence, especially with Bord Bia reporting returns from the French market up by 10c/kg allied to the strength of sterling.

Only four factories are quoting for the hoggets. ICM Navan and Kepak Athleague are offering a quote of 400c/kg plus the bonus. Dawn are the first to dip below the €4/kg mark with their 390c/kg plus 6c/kg, while the 420c/kg plus the bonus quoted from Kepak Hacketstown was for yesterday only.

All of the plants are quoting for the ewes, albeit at very low levels. The figures represent a 10-35c/kg drop since last week. Dawn are the biggest culprits here also having dropped from 260c/kg last Tuesday to their quote of 225c/kg for today.

A 30c/kg fall leaves their neighbours, Athleague, on 220c/kg, with Moyvalley propping up the table at 200c/kg. Both ICMs are on 225c/kg. Hacketstown is quoting 230c/kg, while Kildare lead the way with its 250c/kg quote.

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The trade for both old season and new season lamb in Britain continued to weaken on the back of lower demand from the French market, according to Bord Bia.

Trade is being hampered by the ongoing effects of a strong pound against the euro. This is hurting the competitiveness of British lamb on export markets. By the weekend, old season lamb and new season lambs at live markets across Britain were making the equivalent of €4.73/kg and €5.84/kg.

Meanwhile, there was a world record achieved involving sheep over the weekend when 154 hand shearers took part in a hand-shearing attempt at the Connacht Spring Show in Ballinrobe. This shattered the previous figure set at the Roscommon Lamb Festival.


Marts have seen a significant fall in prices from last week, with yesterday's sales noticeably back on the figures reported from the sales held from last Tuesday to Saturday. Obviously, it is the big drop in the factories that is dictating proceedings.

Lambs were generally making €50-60 over the weight in Athenry yesterday, with a tops of €115 for 55kgs. Ewe hogget's sold to €142. Wether hoggets made around the €40 over. Down in Fermoy a big sale met with a tougher trade as the lambs moved for €50-57 with the €1/kg.

Kilkenny Mart reported a drop in prices of €7-8/hd at yesterday's sale, with the lambs selling for €54-57 over the weight and the hoggets making €40-50 over.

Sheep numbers are beginning to drop off at Mayo/Sligo Mart but the trade remains steady. Ewes with lambs at foot were selling up to €182.

Spring lambs made up to €105/hd at Baltinglass Mart. Hoggets sold up to €85, with ewe hoggets making up to €125/hd.

Sheep at Carrigallen Mart were a steady trade. Spring lambs made from €63-70 over the weight. Hoggets ranged from €38-59 with the weight. Ewes with lambs at foot sold for €125-272.

At Enniscorthy Mart prices were reported to be back by up to €5/hd. The butcher and factory lambs were selling for €55-63 over their weight in a price-range of €102-112.

Cahir had a good steady sheep trade. Spring lambs made €100-120 or €62-65 over the weight. Hoggets made €62-96 or €30-42 over. The well-fleshed cull ewes sold to €100.

The sheep trade was quieter at Dowra Mart on Saturday where ewes with lambs at foot were a stickier trade. The best of the young ewes with twins made €180-240 each.

Indo Farming