Farm Ireland

Thursday 22 February 2018

Look to carcass weights to give maximum return

Joe Healy

SHEEP farmers will have to learn a lesson from the Cork hurlers and adopt a different approach. And just as the Rebels went for the direct ball in on top of Aisake, maybe the lamb producers' best angle of attack is to ensure that they get paid on the maximum carcass weight possible -- an extra 0.5-1kg can be far more rewarding than bargaining for ages on an extra few cents on the quote.

While some factories are paying up to 21.5kg this week, a few are still trying to get away with only paying to 20kg. For example, an extra 0.5kg at today's quotes is worth €2.50. If you go bargaining for a better price you will have to get the factory to increase by 12.5c/kg to match this even on a 20kg carcass.

The bottom line is to ensure you are maximising the carcass weight you get paid on. It is also important to keep the lambs sold, as they are coming fit, as there are lots of farmers feeding on lambs to heavier-than-required weights and not getting anything for their troubles apart from penalties.

As you will see from the table, all of the quotes represent a drop of 10-15c/kg when compared to last Tuesday. Most of the factory sources said that increased supplies were the main reason behind the fall, but there were also a few of them saying that supplies remained tight and they were finding it difficult to get adequate numbers.

In any event, they are all as close to each other as Offaly and Antrim or Down and Donegal were at full time last Sunday. Regardless of whether the quotes were for yesterday or today, they are more or less all on a base of 500c/kg plus the bonus, with Moyvalley's all-in 505c/kg giving a similar final result.


James Murphy, from the IFA, said that 510-515c/kg is being paid, with reports of more being paid in places in order to attract enough numbers from a continuing tight supply.

Only three plants are quoting for hoggets, with Moyvalley top at 450c/kg. ICM Navan are on 440c/kg plus 6c/kg, while Kildare Chilling are offering 430c/kg plus the bonus.

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The cull ewes continue to remain steady in a range of 220-250c/kg. Dawn Ballyhaunis are at the lower end, with Kildare and Kepak Hacketstown leading the way. Kepak Athleague and Moyvalley are on 240c/kg, while both ICMs are quoting 230c/kg.

Kill figures for the year up to May 22 show that total sheep supplies at export meat plants were back by 8,000hd on the corresponding week last year, at 35,600hd. This leaves supplies to date almost 17pc, or 136,000hd, lower than last year.

In Britain, the live market trade picked up as the week progressed as ongoing tight supplies helped the trade. The average new season SQQ price in England and Wales finished the week at the equivalent of 545c/kg including VAT. British lamb and adult sheep slaughterings in the first quarter of this year were 16pc below last year, at 3.4m head.

In France, the lamb trade remained slow during the week, reflecting the relatively slow demand situation and the presence of competitively priced New Zealand lamb on the market. Grade 1 Irish spring lamb delivered to Paris was generally making 526-537c/kg including VAT for much of the week.

Irish Independent