Farm Ireland

Wednesday 21 February 2018

Loss of competition concerns traders

There is mixed news on the sheep front at the moment.
There is mixed news on the sheep front at the moment.

Joe Healy

The news is mixed on the sheep front at the moment. On one hand quotes and prices are holding well and even strengthening somewhat.

But the flip side is the likely loss of competition in the southeast, which is not good news from a farmer's point of view. Customers and suppliers to Kepak Hacketstown are quite anxious about the future of the plant that slaughtered at least 250,000 lambs annually.

Rumours of a collection or assembly point there for lambs to be transported to the sister plant in Athleague are doing the rounds but the reality of this happening is highly unlikely. It is more likely that those lambs will end up in Camolin, Kildare or Ballon.

In the meantime farmers will be happy to see that the trade is solid with, according to factory sources, a sluggish market being offset by ever tighter supplies. All of the plants apart from Moyvalley have retained the 450c/kg base plus the bonus.

By virtue of their extra 5c/kg quality assurance bonus Kildare Chilling are more or less tops. Despite a 5c/kg slip Moyvalley remain right up there also with their all-in quote of 465c/kg.

A couple of processors were anxious to point out that a number of over-weight lambs were being offered for slaughter. In many cases those lambs are being fed meal and are over 50kg.

Meal-fed lambs should be moved at a weight range of 45-48kg. I have often advised that the marts are a better option for the over 50kg lambs, where butchers are quite happy to compete for them, especially if they are nicely finished.

With numbers tightening, the factories are under pressure to secure adequate supplies and a few of them were pretty active over the weekend trying to round up stock with prices of 475-485c/kg being freely offered.

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John Lynskey said prices of up to €4.90/kg and to 23kg were being paid.

There is no change to the quotes for the cull ewes with all plants continuing to offer 200c/kg. Farmers with numbers are bargaining for prices of 220-230c/kg.

Bord Bia noted that to date throughput is back 11pc or 16,000 head. In Britain, the trade edged upwards due to some tightening of supplies. The SQQ live price for lambs in England and Wales at the weekend was €4.90/kg deadweight.

In France, the market was reported as quiet with slow demand and a plentiful supply of British lamb making the market more competitive. Prices for Irish Grade 1 lamb were around €4.72kg (inclusive of VAT).


Prices were kinder to sheep than the weather over the past week. Sales yesterday met with good demand, with prices for the fleshy lambs over 50kg running at €50-60 over the weight.

The best price of the day was €120 for 54kg or €66 over the €/kg at Kilkenny Mart. Apart from this, the general run of good lambs were making from €55-60 over. Factory types ranged in price from €86-105 or €45-58 with their weight. Stores sold for €70-85/hd, with limited numbers on offer.

Cull ewes made from €50-100. Prices for the 50kg plus lambs at Athenry and Fermoy Marts were selling for €53-62 with the €/kg. Lighter lambs sold for €40-50 over. The cull ewes in Athenry made from €65-100.

Down in Fermoy, the culls ranged from €40-94, while ewes with a lamb or lambs at foot varied in price from €135-190. The good prices for the heavier lambs is proof that the mart is much more suitable for these types than the factories.

Carnew had a bigger entry with 2,200 on offer. Prices were steady. Butcher and factory lambs were selling for prices of €97-109/hd or €52-56 over their weight. Stores ranged from €67-95 or €36-52 over the €/kg. Cull ewes sold for €35-92, with the in-lamb ewes making from €110-135.

The sheep trade was stronger at Dowra Mart last Saturday, with the best of the store lambs making from €70-90 each. The lighter pens for feeding made from €40-70.

Heavy cull ewes sold from €50-75. Ewes for grazing made from €30-55 each. A special entry of in-lamb ewes saw the best lots making from €150-185 while ewes with pairs of lambs at foot sold up to €210 each.

Down in Enniscorthy, the butcher lambs were making from €50-56, with their weight in a price range of €103-108. Factory types sold for €94-102 or €50-58 over.

The stores were selling for €66-92 or €45-55 with the €/kg. Light cull ewes sold for €34-66, while the fleshier culls made from €70-92. Ewes with a lamb or lambs at foot made from €150-180.

Mountbellew had smaller numbers on offer due to poor weather conditions. Trade was firm for all lambs on offer, especially for fleshy lots, which made up to €57 with the €/kg. Stores were making from €37-45 with the weight.

Cull ewes met with a slightly improved trade, with prices ranging from €55-87.50. One first crop ewe with twin lambs at foot made €195.

Seven first crop ewes due to lamb in March carrying three twins and four singles sold for €130.

Blackface ewes in lamb sold for €45-63 at Maam Cross Mart.

Weather hoggets were making €45-73. Cross bred lambs were making from €30-68 in the main, with a top price of €80. Mountain wether and ram lambs made from €28-58.

Fleshed lambs in Tuam were making from €1.90-2.08/kg or a tops of €111. Cull ewe prices varied from €70-110.

Sheep: Factory quotes c/kg incl VAT

Dawn BallyhaunisTUE200450+6

Irish Independent