Farm Ireland

Monday 11 December 2017

Ploughing set to boost sheep trade

Joe Healy

In keeping with their footballing forwards, Dawn Ballyhaunis are drawing a blank and were not in a position to offer a quote when contacted yesterday morning. While Sunday's blanks in Croke Park were extremely disappointing, Dawn's lack of a quote may be more a case of 'no news is good news'.

In contrast, their neighbours Kepak Athleague have taken over the baton in the sprint downwards. They have knocked a further 10c/kg off the quote since this day last week and are now looking up at the rest with their base of 430c/kg plus the bonus. Word on the ground is that quite a lot of lambs from the west are travelling to plants in the east, a trend that is likely to continue on the basis of the above.

Kepak Hacketstown are back by 5c/kg to 435c/kg plus 5c/kg, but this was for yesterday only and they are not killing again until Thursday.

Elsewhere, the rest of the plants have retained the same quotes as last week. This means that the two ICM plants and Kildare Chilling are offering 440c/kg plus the bonus with Kildare offering the extra 5c/kg for quality assured lambs. Moyvalley continue to offer an unchanged all-in quote of 450c/kg.

Commenting on the trade, the IFA's James Murphy said that it should improve this week as supplies tighten due to a combination of the Ploughing Championships and the Muslim Festival Eid al-Adha. He added that farmers are insisting on a base of 450c/kg up to 22.5kg, with larger lots and quality assured lambs commanding more.

The cull ewe shows no change with Kildare and the ICM plants still offering 180c/kg. Both Kepak's are quoting 170c/kg.

Bord Bia said that the sheep trade had remained steady over the past week despite supplies running above 60,000 head and weakening demand in the main export markets. Trade though is being helped by solid demand on the home market coupled with the expectation that market demand across the key export markets is forecast to recover over the coming weeks.

Quotes for lamb remain steady and were generally making €4.40/kg, with more available for select lots. Prices paid for culled ewes have also settled down, with general quotes still making between €1.70-1.80/kg. To date this year, sheep supplies at meat export plants are around 11pc or around 172,200 head higher at 1.77m head.

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Trade across Britain weakened slightly as the week progressed in response to some increase in supplies combined with some slowdown in demand across the main export markets. By the weekend, new season lamb at live markets across England and Wales was making the equivalent of around €4.38/kg.

In France, trade eased throughout the week with consumer demand reportedly very weak as most of the promotional activity that had been evident in previous weeks has come to an end. Prices for Irish Grade 1 lamb were making around to €4.40/kg by the end of the week. However, Muslim festival Eid al-Adha, which begins in mid-October, should boost demand.

The Irish sheepmeat industry is one of the smaller segments of the Irish agriculture sector, with an annual output of €180m.

Irish flock productivity lags about 15pc behind Britain. However, there have been many positive trends in recent years:

* Since 2011, sheep numbers and factory throughputs have been slowly edging upwards again.

* The establishment of Sheep Ireland will accelerate the genetic improvement of the national sheep flock.

* Teagasc is committed to sheep research and advice through a new research flock at Athenry and an expanded BETTER sheep farm programme.

More than 70pc of Irish sheepmeat is exported. Of these exports, 60pc will finish up on discerning French tables, where quality and taste are of paramount importance.

Meanwhile the factory trade has sapped confidence out of the mart trade for sheep too. This is being seen in the trade for not only lambs but also breeding stock. Hogget and aged ewes met a sluggish trade throughout the past week. Most ewe hoggets sold for €110-130/hd but some top lots made from €140-160. Most older ewes made €80-100/hd.

Fleshed lambs were under pressure with only top heavy lots reaching €100/hd and most only making

€38-50 over the weight. Some ewe lambs suitable for breeding sold for €110-120 while store lambs sold for €50-80/hd. Fat cull ewes made up to €90 each and feeders made €40-55 each.

In Baltinglass Mart butcher and factory lambs sold for €55-100/hd while stores made €55-76. Ewe lambs sold for €75-118 and ewe hoggets sold for €75-125 each,

At Carnew, butcher and factory lambs sold for €85-102 but store prices fell by €2/hd to €55-77/hd. At Dowra Mart, the best store lambs sold for €60-82 and lighter lambs made €40-60 each. Mountain store lambs sold for €25-50/hd. Lambs of 40-45kg sold for €40-48 over the weight at Ballymote and at Raphoe Mart, butcher lambs made €42-70 with the €/kg.

Irish Independent

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