Lamb trade dives by up to 20c a kilo

Joe Healy

The lamb trade reflects more of Galway's performance in the Leinster hurling final last Sunday than anything else.

If anything, the difference of a massive 12 points in Croke Park pales when compared to the 15-20c/kg difference in the lamb quotes over the last week. I dread to think what the trade would have been like if it wasn't for the increased activity with live exports over the past month. It is fair to say that the quotes would be under €5/kg. The notion of this in early July after such an expensive year will give farmers pause for thought as we move towards the breeding season.

At least the news on live exports is pretty positive with quite a sizeable amount being talked about for export next week. Prices being mentioned are somewhere around 2.45/kg liveweight.

As you will see from the table, the quotes have fallen to a range of 510-520c/kg base. Moyvalley's 520c/kg is an all-in quote and reflects a drop of 20c/kg over the past seven days. A 15c/kg drop in the two ICM plants and Dawn Ballyhaunis leaves them all on a base of 515c/kg plus 6c/kg bonus for U grades. Kepak Athleague's pull of 20c/kg and their sister plant's reduction of 15c/kg results in both offering a base quote of 510c/kg plus the bonus. Kildare Chilling were not quoting for lambs when contacted yesterday morning. Despite this, farmers are holding out strongly and securing higher prices and weights to 21.5kg.

An extra half kilo on a 21kg carcase adds another €2.70 or 13c/kg to a base price of €5.40/kg. That goes a long way to covering the 15-20c/kg drop to quotes referred to above. My advice is to bargain hard on price, but especially on weight.

The IFA's James Murphy said that the live export boat next week will have no weight restrictions on the lambs it takes. He added that factories were paying between 535-545c/kg for lambs.

Bord Bia reported prices of 585c/kg in France with the British price at 580c/kg.

Quotes and prices for cull ewes continue to firm with Dawn Ballyhaunis increasing their quote by 10c/kg to move up in line with the ICMs and Kildare on 200c/kg. Both Kepaks remain on a quote of 190c/kg. Moyvalley are not quoting. Prices of 220-230c/kg are rumoured to have been negotiated.

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The live exporters are helping to steady the trade at the marts with prices holding pretty well despite the negative movement at the factories. Some marts reported a strengthening of prices.

Heavy lambs over 48kg generally made between €56-70 over their weight. Factory types made from €53-65 over. Store prices ranged from €60-80. Ewe hoggets for breeding made up to €162 with older ewes depending on age and quality selling for €80-120. The heavy cull ewes made from €90-114 while ewes for further feeding generally made from €50-80 each.

The top price at Athenry Mart yesterday was €71 over the weight with 50kg selling for €121. Apart from that pen most of the other fit lambs sold for €55-68 over the €/kg. Lighter lambs made from €40-50 over. There were over 400 sheep already booked in at Fermoy Mart when I spoke to them yesterday morning and early signals were of a steady trade with lambs over 45kg making from €55-66 with their weight. Lambs below this weight were selling for €40-53 over the €/kg.

In Kilkenny, the butcher lambs were up while the factory types were probably back slightly. Lambs over 50kg were selling for prices of €110-130 or €58-78 with the weight. The 40-50kg lambs sold for €46-64 over the weight at prices of €86-112.

Mountbellew Mart reported large numbers on offer with the live exporters ensuring a lively trade for the heavier types over 40kg. Prices were showing a €5-6/hd improvement and generally made from €57-69 with their weight with a tops of €120 for 51kg. However, the store lambs were a bit easier than in recent weeks as prices ranged between €60-85 for most lots. There was a brisk trade for cull ewes. Heavy lots fit for slaughter sold for €80-110 while feeders made from €60-75 each. A small turnout of aged breeding ewes made up to €101. Ewes with single lambs hit €144.

The heavy lambs were also up at Baltinglass Mart but only by €1-3/hd and sold for €55-65 with the €/kg. Store lambs made from €30-50 over their weight. Prices for cull ewes ran from €40-95/hd. Ewe hoggets being bought for breeding sold for €100-150 with first to third crop ewes selling for €80-100 each.

A big entry of 2,500 sheep at Carnew Mart reaped the benefits of competition between exporters and factory agents. Prices for the finished lambs were up a tad and varied from €98-117/hd. In the breeding section, ewe hoggets ranged from €130-162.

Over in Maam Cross, prices for Mountain ewes with a lamb or lambs at foot ranged from €52-85. Ewe hoggets sold from €55-78 while the lambs made upwards of €61 each.

The good heavy lambs over 47kg made from €2.20-2.38/kg at Tuam Mart. The best of the lambs between 40-45kg made up to €2.45/kg. Prices for cull ewes ran from €60-103/hd.

The best of the lambs at Mayo/Sligo Mart sold for €95-108/hd. Stores made €60-86 each.

Irish Independent

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