The gap between what farmers had hoped to get for spring lamb and what is actually being paid is not as big as that between Kilkenny and Galway hurlers last Sunday, but finishers are still disappointed that they have to accept 20-50c/kg less than the €7/kg they had anticipated.
An added negative is where the processors are only paying up to a maximum of 20kg.
Most plants are quoting a base of 650c/kg plus the bonus for the lambs. Kepak Athleague is the only plant differing from this and is offering a base of 640c/kg plus 5c/kg for today.
As I mentioned last week, some of the factory men were anxious to point out that lambs have proved to be heavier than the farmers had expected. The very favourable weather conditions greatly helped thrive over the past two months, so it is vital that the farmers keep a good eye on their lambs and keep them moved on as soon as they are fit. There is no point in feeding them to weights over and above those you will get paid for.
Moyvalley Meats remains on top for the hoggets with its all-in quote of 550c/kg. The rest are quoting 530c/kg plus the bonus. Kildare is also offering the extra 5c/kg for quality assured stock. The quality of what is being slaughtered is fairly mixed at this stage.
Reacting to the trade, IFA sheep chairman James Murphy said that hogget prices continued to slowly edge upwards, with some factories paying as high as 565c/kg to 24kg.
He said finishers selling bigger numbers were managing to negotiate deals in excess of this.
He added that lamb producers were angry at the 20kg weight restriction imposed on their lambs, with prices of 660-680c/kg being paid.
Kildare is top for the cull ewes at 310c/kg. The ICMs, Kepaks and Dawn Ballyhaunis are all quoting 300c/kg.
Bord Bia reported that the trade for old season lamb in Britain eased slightly as the week progressed.
However, trade for small numbers of new season lamb was exceptionally strong. By the weekend, old season and new season at livemarkets across Britain was making the equivalent of €5.81/kg and €6.98/kg respectively.
In France, the trade increased slightly during the course of the week, despite the strong presence of domestic and Spanish product on the market.
Prices for limited numbers of Irish grade 1 lamb were making up to €6.10/kg including VAT by the end of the week.
Meanwhile, new season spring lambs made around €125-140 each in the marts in the build up to Easter.
Ewe hoggets also topped out at €140, while hoggets for slaughter made €65-80 over the weight. Stores sold for €60-70 over in a range of €60-110.
Ewes with twin lambs at foot made €170-300, while ewes with single lambs sold for €120-200/unit. In-lamb ewes made €140-160.
Good quality spring lambs at Athenry Mart yesterday made €80-92 over the weight, selling for €124-138. Hoggets sold for €65-77 over the €1/kg.
Kilkenny Mart had the top spring lamb price reported, with a pen of Charolais cross lambs weighing 42kg selling for €140 (€98 over the €1/kg) yesterday.
Hoggets made €69-76 over. Ewes with lambs at foot made up to €240/unit.
Spring lambs made up to €130/hd at Baltinglass Mart. Hoggets of 50-60kg sold for €122-133. The 40-50kg types made €110-120 each. The best of the cull ewes sold for €140. Keen demand saw ewes with lambs at foot sell for €170-275.
Carrigallen Mart had a brisk trade for all sheep. Heavy butcher lambs made €125-134, with the top price of €134 paid for a lot weighing 54kg. Factory lambs made €107-124, store lambs sold for €70-101, in-lamb ewes made an average of €150 each, while in-lamb yearlings made up to €170. Ewes with a single lamb at foot sold for €140-185 and ewes with twin lambs made €190-296.
Trade was steady for the 1,500 sheep on offer in Enniscorthy, where butcher hoggets sold for €75-80 with their weight in a range of €124-130. Factory types sold for €70-75 over at €117-123/hd. Stores made €85-110 each (€60-70 over the €1/kg). A few pens of ewe hoggets sold for €126-140. Fleshed cull ewes made €118-134, while feeders made €45-88. Ewes with lambs at foot made €215-272/unit.
Dowra Mart had 740 sheep for sale on Saturday last. The best of the ewe hoggets made €100-145, while factory hoggets sold for €90-118 each. Store hoggets made €70-90. Heavy cull ewes sold for €90-130, while ewes for feeding made €55-85 each.