Farm Ireland

Monday 18 December 2017

Line in sand drawn as prices plummet

Joe Healy

The lamb quotes have been hit almost as hard as the Donegal footballers at the weekend. While the men from the northwest couldn't find an inch of space in their battle with Monaghan, the lamb processors seem to have no shortage of room – as long as the trajectory is downward.

Quotes were back by 20-25c/kg on this day week. As if that's not bad enough, many of them are also of the mindset that prices will pretty quickly fall through the "line in the sand" mark of €5/kg.

If this happens as we approach the breeding season it would send out extremely bad vibes and kill any enthusiasm among farmers at a very critical time of their calendar. A 25c/kg drop on 21.5kg equates to a cut of €5.37/lamb.

As you will see from the table, despite pulling their base quotes by 20c/kg, Kildare Chilling and Moyvalley are still setting the pace, with the former offering 500c/kg plus the two 5c/kg bonuses for U grades and Kepak Athleague were not quoting when contacted yesterday morning and Hacketstown's quote of 500c/kg plus 5c/kg was for yesterday only. It was a similar story from ICM Navan.

Elsewhere, Dawn Ballyhaunis and ICM Camolin were offering a base of 500c/kg plus the bonus for today.

As I have often said before and especially at this time of this time of the year, if lambs are going into heavier weights then the mart is a better option. Commenting on the trade, the IFA's James Murphy said that farmers are strongly resisting factory price pressure on lambs and holding out for 510-520c/kg to 21.5kg.

Quotes for the cull ewes range between 190c/kg and 200c/kg. The ICMs and Kildare Chilling remain on the €2/kg, while 190c/kg is being offered in Dawn and Hacketstown.

Trade in Britain weakened throughout the week in response to some increase in supplies and weaker demand in France.

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In France, trade eased in response to demand being more subdued due to high temperatures and many Parisians departing for their holidays.

By the end of the week, Irish Grade 1 lamb was making close to €5.05 including VAT. Demand for Irish product over the coming week is expected to remain under pressure as temperatures are expected to increase further.


Mountbellew reported a large number of sheep on offer. Lambs were an easier trade on the previous week. Cull ewes met with strong demand, with prices remaining firm. Feeders sold back to €60. Lambs over 45kg generally sold for €100-109/hd. Lighter types made from €70 to €94. Supplies of breeding ewes remain tight. First crops made up to €130/hd, while ewes with lambs at foot hit a high of €202.

Trade was firm for the larger numbers on offer at Baltinglass Mart. Heavy lambs made from €95 to €110/hd. The 40-45kg sold up to €100. The best of the cull ewes peaked at €80, with the poorest types back to €30/hd. Carnew had a large entry of 3,200 sheep and reported a strong demand for butcher and factory lambs but store lambs were easier by €3/hd.

Finished lots varied in price from €94 to €116, with the stores selling for €55-90/hd. Fat cull ewes sold for €75-102. Lighter ewes for further feeding made €35-68. In the breeding section, the ewe hoggets were making from €110 to €150/hd, with the older ewes selling between €70-135.

In Tuam the nicely finished lambs were selling for €2.25-2.57/kg, with €121 for 47kg being the standout price. This reflected €74 over the weight. Cull ewes made from €55 to €110.

Trade in Ballina was good for all lambs. Well made fleshed lots were making from €58 to €67 with the €/kg. Lighter lots between 30-35kg were selling at prices of €50-68/hd.

Irish Independent